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Quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) has been riding the wave of popularity as a top super food for the past few years. Quinoa-bowl

Seemingly the hottest thing since couscous, many believe this bulbous seed is just another trendy grain. But quinoa actually belongs to a species of leafy plants in the “goosefoot family:” a close relative of spinach, the beet – and if you can believe it – the tumbleweed (roll on, outlaw).

Though new to many, this commonly mispronounced food has been a staple in South America (particularly Bolivia and the Andean region) for thousands of years. Dating all the way back to the Incan civilization, quinoa was believed to be as valuable as gold because it kept up the strength of warriors.

So it’s no wonder quinoa has been welcomed with open arms by an increasingly health-conscious world. It’s a source of complete protein and is dense with life’s most essential nutrients. It’s also gluten and cholesterol free. In fact, the United Nations officially declared 2013
The International Year of Quinoa” to raise awareness about the great value of this nutrient-rich plant food.

Quinoa acts a lot like an ordinary carb in a dish, and is a great healthy substitute. And because it only carries a subtle nutty taste, it can work for almost any recipe with endless flavoring possibilities. A simple internet search will have you realize just how unlimited the cooking options are, but here are just a few that seem most interesting to me (I will be trying the Spicy Coconut Kale this weekend)!

1. Spicy Coconut Kale Quinoa
2. Beet, Blood Orange, Kumquat, and Quinoa Salad

Quinoa-salad

3. Apple Nut Quinoa
4. Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili

One downfallof quinoa: it can be pricey. My suggestion is to hit a wholesale/warehouse store like Cosco, Sam’s Club or BJs to buy in bulk, or wait until it goes on sale at your regular grocery store. Also, make sure to wash the quinoa well before eating, as it can taste bitter otherwise.

Have you tried quinoa?
Do you think it lives up to all the hype?

Share your favorite recipes below!

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