|Fried rice made with quinoa and brown rice - SUPAHSTAAAAAAAAH - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Quinoa is actually the edible seed of the grain-based species of goosefoot plant, which is itself more related to spinach or tumbleweeds, oddly enough. And you think your family's a bunch of oddballs. So quinoa is technically not a real whole grain, but the fact that it's a seed is what makes it such a great gluten-free side dish. It's also got a nice high protein content, as compared to something like rice, and it can be eaten in both sweet and savory dishes. I've seen people swap out oatmeal with quinoa and add a little honey, dried fruit or sugar with milk, to make a sweetened quinoa porridge. Definitely more protein than even steel-cut oats. I've been using quinoa mixed with brown rice or as a total rice substitute, which is helpful when you do a lot of stir fry dishes. I love rice, don't get me wrong, but even switching to all brown rice, with only the occasional use of a short-grain white rice, a little extra bit of protein mixed in doesn't hurt.
|Inspired by Spam, but no actual Spam in this fried rice (or Spam Mints) - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Slightly less-guilty fried rice - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Quinoa risotto, anyone? - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
I used this recipe from Bon Appetit for Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms and Thyme as a baseline and I had my own additions to work with. Because quinoa doesn't have the high starch content of Arborio rice, you have to substitute that creaminess that develops in risotto with something else. Sure, you could use cream, but I ended up adding a few spoonfuls of plain, unsweetened low fat yogurt -- Winning. I always keep a container of it in the fridge, it's another one of those ingredient basics that is great for subbing-out things like sour cream, even actual cream, like if you want to thicken a soup (but mix it in with a hand blender to make it smooth), plus yogurt has a nice tartness which helps cut a little of the richness of dishes. And if there's any leftover plain yogurt, just put the rest in a bowl, drizzle a little honey on it, and it's an instant breakfast or dessert. I know, not as good as a giant slice of chocolate cake (yes, even for breakfast), but when we save our indulge moments for the truly indulge-worthy things, they taste so much better.
|You rock my world, Keen-Wah -- PLAY FREEBIRD!! - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
The only thing that left me wanting was the lack of Rap Superstar props to Keen-Wah, who has clearly shown his stellar talent to the food world. Nothing so clearly represents quinoa so eloquently as that much-favorited video by Fog and Smog Films, It's Gettin' Real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot. Because, seriously... it got real on my dinner plate, yo. PROPER.