THE KITCHEN DIVA
By Angela Shelf Medearis
I love discovering healthy ingredients and adding them to my favorite recipes. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with quinoa, which looks like small, grayish pearls and has a nutty flavor and a light, creamy texture. Quinoa often is referred to as a “grain,” but it’s actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. I love combining it with rice or couscous.
Quinoa has a long and ancient history, and is native to South America. It’s called the “the gold of the Incas,” who recognized its protein-packed potential as a source of energy for their warriors. It’s also perfect protein source for vegans, since it contains all nine essential amino acids.
Lysine is an amino acid found in quinoa that helps promote tissue growth and repair, and that might be one reason that warriors in battle valued eating quinoa. It’s also a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. Eating quinoa has been found to be beneficial to those who suffer with migraine headaches. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels — which prevents the pain, constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines — and also reduces the frequency of headache episodes.
To prepare quinoa, place it in a fine mesh strainer, coffee filter or a piece of cheesecloth. Soak it for several hours, changing the soaking water or running it under cold water to remove the saponin. Saponin is a coating on quinoa that has a laxative effect. Some brands of quinoa come pre-rinsed for convenience.
Cooking quinoa is similar to preparing rice. Use two cups of liquid (water or broth) to one cup of quinoa, bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for 14 to 18 minutes. The quinoa germ will curl and separate from the seed when it is fully cooked.
You can serve cooked quinoa for breakfast mixed with berries, yogurt, honey or almonds. It also can be purchased as a dry, flaked product that can be eaten like a breakfast cereal.
This recipe for Fiesta Tacos is perfect for breakfast, or can be served as lunch, or for dinner with a salad or steamed green vegetables. The quinoa and brown rice can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Try these delicious tacos as a “meal on the go” for busy days.
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
* 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
* 1 cup cooked quinoa
* 1 cup cooked brown rice
* 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/2 cup water or low-sodium chicken, beef or vegetable broth
* 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 cup frozen corn or no-salt added canned corn, optional
* 10 whole-wheat tortillas
* 1 (16 ounce) jar of mild, chunky salsa
* 1/2 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, optional
* 1/4 cup sliced green or black olives, optional
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic to onion and cook until garlic is turning golden
2. Add the quinoa, brown rice, black beans and water or broth. Season mixture with the pepper, chili powder and the cumin. Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to boil. Add the corn, if desired. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
3. Wrap tortillas in food-safe paper towels. Sprinkle paper towels with water on both sides. Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until warm and pliable.
4. Place 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of each tortilla. Top with salsa and optional filling ingredients, if desired. Fold the tortilla in half and serve immediately. Makes 10 tacos, 2 tacos per serving.
TIP: You also can prepare the tortillas in advance, wrap them in individual pieces of microwave-safe plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze them for re-heating in the microwave.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
(c) 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.,and Angela Shelf Medearis