Friday, July 30, 2010

Something I've never eaten before but it's delicious: Quinoa

When I called Delaine to let her know I was on my way home from work, I asked her what she wanted for supper, for I often cook at our house.
"I've already got it started," she said.
Words like that thrill me.
"You're cooking tonight?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "It's something new. It might not be worth eating, but it's something I've wanted to try for a long time."
"What is it?" I asked.
She said something that sounded like, "Kin-wah."
"Kin-wah? What is it? Some kind of Jap dish?" I asked. (I am not politically correct, and I make no apology for it.)
"No," she said, "It isn't Japanese. I think it's South American."
"OK, I can't wait to try it," I said.
When I got home, the house smelled terrific, and I went into the kitchen and stirred it around in the pot. It looked like chili. Then I saw a recipe laying on the counter; it was titled "Three Bean and Quinoa Chili."
"Oh," I said. "It's called kwin-o-uh. I thought you were saying kin-wah or something."
"No, it looks like kwin-o-uh, and that's the way I pronounced it at the store, but they told me it is really pronounced kin-wah," she said.
Well, however it is pronounced, it is doggone tasty.
Quinoa is a grain. Well it is not really a grain, but it is plant that produces tiny seeds that are full of nutrients. Delaine bought a bag of these seeds at Foods for Health and added them to beans and tomatoes and made chili that is full of protein, despite being meatless. Being nutritious and meatless is important because my doctor told me to cut sugar and fat from my diet, start exercising and lose weight.
"This stuff is delicous, and I like the texture," I said after I practically inhaled a bowl of it. "I believe I'll have a second bowl."
I had another big ole bowl of it for supper last night and also took a container of it to work for lunch. It really is tasty stuff.
Not only that, it was also sacred food for the Incas. Because it was so sacred to the pagan Incas, the Spanish forbade its cultivation and forced the Indians to grow corn. Maybe that's why we don't hear about quinoa.
"I've never heard of this stuff," I told Delaine last night. "I've lived 57 years on this earth and never heard of kin-o-ah. You're always feeding me new stuff. I lived nearly 50 years before I ever ate sushi; probably never would have if you hadn't come along."
I'd also probably never have eaten a mango if she hadn't bought one for me; come to think of it, a mango would make a good, healthy dessert with the quinoa chili.
And I'd probably never have eaten quinoa if she hadn't made it. I wouldn't have known to ask for it. Delaine had heard of it years ago, but never found quinoa for sale anywhere. She was at Foods for Health to buy some other stuff and spotted the Red Quinoa.
Well, if you want to try it, too, here's the recipe she used. Go over to Foods for Health, or your nearest health foods store, and get a bag of this stuff, then try this chili. Although the basic recipe came off the internet, Delaine adjusted it somewhat, so I'm calling it by a new name:

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (more if you like garlic. Delaine used 2 Tablespoons of minced garlic.)
1 large onion, diced
4 cans of beans of any kind (Delaine used 2 cans of black beans, 1 can of black-eyed peas and 1 can of kidney beans.)
1/2 cup Red Quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sweet corn, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup celery, diced (1 stalk)
28 ounces diced tomatoes, do not drain
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 Tablespoon chili power, or to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt (optional; Delaine didn't use a bit of salt, that's something else we're cutting or lowering in my diet.)
1 Tablespoon dried basil
Heat the oil in a large soup pot and saute the garlic and onion for three minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients, cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the flame to medium low and simmer 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Adjust the seasoning if desired and simmer another 5 minutes.
Serve hot with corn chips or crackers.

Quinoa has an interesting history and you can read about it on these websites:
Quinoa Corporation
World's Healthiest Foods--Quinoa
Although quinoa is something this old Ozarks Boy had never heard of, it has my recommendation.

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