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Quinoa … Keen Whaaaat?

For the last couple of years I have been on a mission to lose weight and get fit. In April of 2007, I hit my all time high in weight and did not want to see the next higher number. You can guess what the magic number was. I’ll never say.  I have been going to Jazzercise classes for several years but that wasn’t really helping my situation at that point. I needed to increase my exercise and I also needed to change my eating habits. And my stress level, by the way, was also pretty high at that time, but that’s a topic for another post.

After a few more months of denial, in July of ’07 I finally decided to hire my Jazzercise instructor as my personal trainer. She has a studio in her house. I have been working out every Thursday afternoon since (more or less) in a group with three other women, all with our own challenges, goals and stories. For the longest time, nothing much was happening with my weight. I was exercising more but not enough to compensate for my love of chocolate chip cookies. Eventually though, slowly but surely, I started making some progress.

In May of 2008, I was weighed and measured and that’s the number I use as my current bench mark though it is only 5 pounds less than that awful other number. And since then, I’m happy to say I have lost 24 pounds and 23 inches. I guess it just took a while to get the snowball rolling.

In any case, I am eating much healthier these days. No more cookies, chips, cakes, etc. My trainer also suggested I try eating Quinoa. I was like… Keen whaaa?

Lots of people are really enthusiastic about Quinoa and it is considered a “superfood.” Although it is new to me, Quinoa was first cultivated more than 5000 years ago by the Incas in the Andean region of South America. The Incas revered Quinoa as sacred and called it “The Mother of All Grains.” Because it contains all eight essential amino acids, it is considered a complete protein. If you’re a vegetarian or have issues with gluten or have diabetes, this one’s a keeper because it is plant-based, has no gluten and helps regulate blood sugar levels. As far as nutrition goes, Quinoa is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin D.

Here is the “mother of all grains” recipe I served as part of my Mother’s Day menu. I found the inspiration in Rose Reisman’s, The Complete Light Kitchen, 2007 Whitecap Books, page 108 but made my own adjustments.

Quinoa Greek Salad

2 cups organic chicken stock
1 cup quinoa — you can find it in the cheap and cheerful bulk food section of your grocery store
1/2 half cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup peeled and diced field cucumber
1/4 cup chopped chives — my mother just happened to have some growing in her garden
1/4 cup diced red onion
2/3 cup light feta cheese, crumbled
1 TB lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 TB good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
2 small vine tomatoes, quartered for garnish

1. Optional: Rinse the quinoa in cold water before cooking to remove the possible bitter, mineral taste, though it really doesn’t permeate through the recipe once the quinoa is mixed with other ingredients. You might also want to toast the quinoa in a pan for 2 minutes to release a nutty flavour, but I didn’t this time.

2. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the quinoa grains are tender and there is no liquid left in the pan. Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool.

3. Add the chopped cucumber, red pepper, onions and feta cheese to the cooked and cooled quinoa.

4. In a separate bowl or jar, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dried basil and pepper and pour over the salad. Garnish with tomato wedges.

Enjoy this recipe and let me know how it turned out.

And if you want a spa treatment recipe using Quinoa, try this foot scrub:

Quinoa Dry Rub for Dry Feet


2 cups uncooked Quinoa – Rich in vitamins and minerals, this grain exfoliates without dehydrating skin. Also has anti-fungal properties.
1/3 cup whole coffee beans – Sniffing coffee helps clear the nasal palette. Can be used to soothe inflamed skin, remove cellulite and to exfoliate skin.
peel from 1 orange – Uplifiting orange eases depression, calms anxiety, lulls nervous tension and enhances a room’s atmosphere.
Also, the Alpha-Hydroxi Acids clean and exfoliate skin.
1 TB olive oil – Pressed from juicy olives, this lovely, fragrant, heavy oil calms, soothes, nourishes, cleans, softens and moisturizes skin.

Method: In a bowl that is large enough to fit both of your feet at once, combine all ingredients except olive oil. Tear the orange peel into various shapes and pieces.

Manner: Eat the orange if you haven’t already now that you’ve peeled it. Step into the bowl and roll the soles of your feet over the grains to massage out the kinks for as long as you want.  Wipe off your feet with a towel. Follow with olive oil or lotion to moisturize feet.

Storage/Shelf Life: Store in a glass jar or bottle. May be re-used by the same person.

Note: I designed this recipe so it wouldn’t be messy and clog drains.

Objects in this photo appear larger than they are.

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  1. Leslie says:

    Thanks for the post Maria. I follow a gluten-free diet so appreciated the background and the recipe on Quinoa! See you at class and continued success in the weight loss – you’re lookin’ great.

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