Kin-what? My adventures with quinoa

What the hell is qwinowa?  I ask after seeing it on my yoghurt pot.  It’s actually pronounced ‘kin-wah’ a friend corrected.  (WikiQuinoa for a more detailed explanation.  Check out the health benefits.  Boom!)

That was a few years ago.  Before the iliotibial band syndrome, the mild osteo arthritis in my knees and when my body wasn’t as determined to store fat or need special fuelling to cope with my active and demanding life.  Before I got old.

Ok so mid 30’s isn’t old, but it’s definitely ‘sports old’.  My body decided like a petulant child that it needed special attention.  Feeling frustrated at my failing physical ability, I sought help.  You need an operation, you need to take these 400 vitamins, you need better running shoes was some of the advice.  No one questioned my diet.

After a long journey of scares and setbacks, I’ve found a functional balance of diet and exercise, a pair of horribly expensive sneakers (I don’t need to be asked twice to buy shoes) and a love for quinoa.

Being the International year of quinoa (I’m not joking), I’m going to share a few of my favourite things to make with those funny little superfood seeds.

Note: you have to wash quinoa.  This is not a simple task, when added to water they become like magic sand – somewhat repellent and determined to escape.  Washing in a pot of water and pouring into a sieve – bang the sieve to put the quinoa back into the pot and repeat – works for me.

Cooking is simple – equal parts quinoa to water.   Same as cooking rice.

Quinoa tabbouleh

It’s all about what you like – add a mix of the below ingredients to taste.

Half a cup of cold cooked quinoa per person
finely chopped cherry tomatoes
finely diced cucumber
finely diced red or spring onion (I’m not a mad onion person, 1 t is enough)
finely chopped mint and parsley (I substitute with coriander sometimes)
a squeeze of lemon juice
a gloop of olive oil
salt and pepper.

Chop veg.  Combine with quinoa.  Season, squeeze the lemon and gloop the oil.  Stir and you’re done.

I stir through some cubed chicken breast and some chilli flakes for a healthy protein boost.