Queen Of The Grains... Quinoa

By now, most people have heard of and probably tried quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). Originally from South America, it is thought that quinoa dates back almost 4,000 years as a staple to their diet. This crop was sacred to the Incas and considered the "mother of all grains." However, it is only as of recent that we've been seeing it in our dishes here in the United States.

And thank goodness it's here! The grain is chock-full of protein (containing 8 grams of protein per cup of cooked quinoa, it is a 'complete protein,' meaning it has all your essential and non-essential proteins), vitamins (especially high in in thiamine, riboflavin, B6 and folate, which are great for hair and skin health) and minerals (it's loaded with iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc). It also contains some calcium, so it's great for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant. On top of all of this, it's also non-GMO, typically grown organically and gluten free, so it's basically the perfect staple to any diet!

There are three main types of quinoa: white (the most common type of quinoa. It's often just called "quinoa"), red (it holds it's shape a bit better than white quinoa after cooking so it's great for cold salads) and black (a bit earthier and sweeter than the white quinoa).

It's so easy to incorporate this whole grain into your diet! We love to substitute this superfood for any pasta dish when we are preparing a meal in our kitchens. Just replace the pasta with the quinoa and... voila! You cut the calories and replace them with these nutrient dense little guys. In place of the bleached, nutrient-void white pasta, you can load up some deliciously sauteed or baked veggies on top or add extra yumminess to your dish with lots of freshly grated Parmesan, if you'd like.

One dish that is especially a favorite of ours is Susie's Scarlet Quinoa. Top it off with chunks of avocado and you'll be craving this dish weekly! We get regular requests to bring the dish over to parties... It's THAT good!

Another way that we love to have our quinoa is loaded up with roasted veggies and then drizzled with our healthy and delicious Ginger Tahini Dressing. So good!

There are so many ways to eat this grain! My parents sometimes have it for breakfast. Similar to oatmeal, they pour a little almond or coconut milk onto it once it's been cooked, drizzle a little raw honey and sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top. If you like warm oatmeal in the morning, try this instead. It has more goodness in it which will sustain you longer than steal cut oats throughout your day.

Do you have a favorite way to prepare your quinoa? Let us know! We love trying new recipes!

Till next time, be sure to check out other favorites in our Pageantology Pantry.

Happy/Healthy Eating!

XO, Shandi