Cooking Fresh on a Budget with Quinoa
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa.
This ancient and gluten-free grain is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains, and is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids.
Because quinoa is slightly more expensive than traditional grains (such as rice), balance the expense by cooking it with budget-friendly local butternut squash, root vegetables, apples and onions. Look for store-brand quinoa or find it in the bulk aisle.
Quinoa's versatility makes it an ideal grain for every meal:
- Quinoa is good for breakfast. Try it with cubed apples, dried cranberries and maple syrup, or raisins and cinnamonsugar, as you would with oatmeal.
- Mix quinoa with crunchy or roasted vegetables for salads. They can be made ahead and make perfect healthy lunch options at work or school, enjoyed warm or at room temperature.
- Use quinoa as a side dish for roasted chicken or pork, or as vegetarian main dish.
- Lightly toast quinoa prior to cooking to impart a nutty flavor that pairs well with dried fruits, vegetables such as butternut squash, roasted cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. Toss in some toasted nuts.
- Try stuffing and baking acorn squash with quinoa, sweet onions, apples and raisins. Top with a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Use quinoa in place of or blended with other grains or legumes for homemade veggie burgers.
- Make quinoa ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to several days). Great to have on hand for soups or salads.