Starting from scratch

fresh vegetables - quinoa saladcooking quinoaquinoa salad recipe  

My on-again, off-again relationship with my kitchen has been going steady for years, but my new gluten, dairy, and heck, everything free diet has forced me to spend much more quality time with my pots and pans as of late. 

I mean, I’ve always like the idea of cooking. But it just takes so long, ingredients can get a little pricey when you’re just cooking for one and it seems like an awful lot of effort to start from scratch after fighting traffic home from a long day at work. I knew if this month-long commitment for a healthier me was going to be successful, I was going to need a plan.

For the first week or so, I spent an afternoon making a huge bowl of white rice and grilling chicken kebabs with different seasonings so I could easily grab a perfectly-portioned meal whenever I was hungry or frantically trying to get out the door for work. Some vegetables helped liven up the rice every day, and I treated myself to the most adorable sectioned container to pack everything in. Luckily, my three years of work at an Asian restaurant also prepared me to not only eat, but enjoy rice for meals on end.

But nobody can eat rice 24/7, so this week I’m venturing into all the possibilities of quinoa. My experience with this grain can be summed up by the embarrassing fact I was walking around pronouncing it “Kwin-oh-uh” for far too long than I care to admit…My mind was blown to learn this is the exact same food as that grain everyone pronounces “Keen-whah”. Who knew?! Well, probably you did, but there you go.

I cooked this quinoa substituting half the water with chicken stock, then added basil, cucumbers, grape halves and a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Quinoa cooks just like rice, and I can’t stress enough to make sure you don’t add too much liquid. My first batch of quinoa came out a little lot on the wet side, which is not nearly as appetizing as the dryer, store-bought quinoa I’ve had before. I’d also advise drizzling the olive oil on top just before serving/eating, rather then mixing it in advance. Not only does this keep the salad from getting too moist, but it looks nice on the plate, too!

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