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What's so great about Quinoa?

Source: 
Estelle Harford
I'm so pleased to announce a new addition to the Stretch Chi blog - tips and tools for wellness.  In my experience, once I started doing Ki-Hara, I felt an intense need for more than just muscle cleansing.  I wanted to be more conscious of what kind of fuel I put in my body - growing up in Ohio - this meant switching from various forms of potatoes and pasta to "better" carbohydrates.  But what does that mean?  Was it a better choice to eat multi-grain bread or whole wheat pasta?  Definitely.  Rice?  Yes.  Brown rice?  Even better.  In my search for the perfect pantry arsenal of super foods - I came across the superman of grains - Quinoa.  It's a quick, easy, amazing and tasty food you can add to your diet immediately (and it's really inexpensive!)  It's just as good hot as it is cold.  I often make a big batch and eat it straight out of the refrigerator for days.  
 
Enter personal chef & trainer, Estelle Harford with insight into quinoa and her fantastic quinoa recipe.   

“What’s So Great About Quinoa?”

As a Personal Trainer and Personal Chef, it occurs rather often that clients ask me about foods and recipes. Lately there have been a more questions about a grain that is getting a lot of press, Quinoa, (pronounced KEEN-WA).
 
Quinoa is actually an ancient grain that dates back to the Incan civilization and has been cultivated for roughly 5,000 years. Recently, in North America it has been getting a lot more attention because it is extremely healthy and extremely versatile.
 
Quinoa is a complete protein and has all 9 essential amino acids. Because it is gluten free and has a low glycemic index, it doesn’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike up when you eat it - which in turn helps you maintain weight. Quinoa is 50 calories less than brown rice per serving. It can be eaten warm or cold, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
 
I like Quinoa because it has a distinct flavor and texture. A few years ago I started sneaking it to family parties, disguised as a salad. Coming from a huge Greek family, something new that no one could pronounce was interesting. I wouldn’t even tell them it was healthy. I just made them taste it.  Soon they were all asking for me to bring “That Salad”, and then for the recipe.
 
Stellar Quinoa Salad
 
1 Cup Quinoa, rinsed
2 Cup Chicken Broth (you can use water or vegetable broth if vegetarian)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½  Cup small diced red onion
½ Cup small diced carrots
½  Cup small diced celery
½ Cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit) 
½ Cup pistachios (or other nut)
Lemon Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, 
Salt
Pepper
Dried Oregano
 
  1. Rinse and drain Quinoa in a colander. You will need a colander with tiny holes so the Quinoa doesn’t fall through. 
  2. Just like cooking rice - combine liquid and quinoa in a sauce pan or rice cooker.  Bring to a vigorous boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered until the quinoa is tender, but still chewy and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain.  It will take about 15 minutes on the stove.  
  3. In a separate pan use half of the red onion, carrots and celery and sauté in a little olive oil. Reserve the other half to add to the salad later. I like the crunch of the raw vegetables in this salad.
  4. When quinoa is cooked, fluff with fork, add cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, spices (to taste) and a tablespoon of the salad dressing. Taste, if you feel you need more dressing, add little bit more.
  5. Add dried fruit and nuts.
  6. Mix and enjoy!!
I like to change the recipe every single time I make it. I typically use what I have and don’t worry if it isn’t the exact same as it was before. I taste the salad as I go along to see what it needs, maybe a little more salt or pepper, maybe a little dried oregano. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you have a favorite way to prepare quinoa - please add it to the comment section below.  
 
I hope this helps anyone that might be intimidated by preparing, or even saying Quinoa. Its an amazing grain!
 
Please contact me with any questions.
Estelle Harford
Stellar Strength and Wellness

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