Saturday, October 10, 2009

The dish that inspired the blog

raw corn chips
Originally uploaded by Christaface
For quite a while now, I've been reading about the wonder grain quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). It is a fantastic source of protein, calcium, vitamins, amino acids, etc. - it's just really damn good for you. It's also inexpensive and easy to make. So it seems like a no brainer - we should all be eating quinoa all the time! The catch is, like many healthy foods, it's not something that most of us will want to gulp down by the spoonful. It tastes kind of bland and the texture takes some getting used to.

Most recipes I found for quinoa involved mixing it with some veggies, herbs and olive oil. I'm sure it could be tasty that way, but tasty enough that my girls will eat it? Delicious enough that my husband and I will take more than two dutiful bites? Doubtful. Quinoa is also sometimes baked into breads & muffins, which sounds good, except it's rare that I have time to actually bake breads and muffins.

So I set out to find a way to serve quinoa that would be fairly easy and truly taste good. Taking inspiration from my daughter's favorite frozen burrito (Amy's Organic Non-Dairy Burritos), I mixed cooked quinoa with some mild salsa and some refried beans. Then I put a spoonful onto a Tostito (the "Scoops" work best) and topped it with a slice of avocado to add a little flair (not to mention some good fats). With baited breath, I put my creation onto a Dora plate and watched my daughter take a bite. She loved it!

As I doled out another serving, I realized this dish encompasses my main philosophy about food. It's important to eat real food - food that hasn't been smashed, pulverized, centrifuged, salted, preserved, and colored into something virtually unrecognizable from its original form. But (for me, at least) it's equally important that food be delicious...especially if you want your kids to eat it. My husband and I can gulp down bland veggies once in a while in the name of good nutrition and/or weight loss, but I simply cannot force my toddlers to chow down on healthy foods that don't taste good - no matter how much bribery is involved.

So, my approach is to combine something healthy with something that tastes really, really good. Maybe someday I will have adapted my palate to the point where a spoonful of plain quinoa served over a bed of spinach leaves tastes delectable. But until then...I'll take little grease & salt with my quinoa, please.


  1. I'm not a big fan of plain quinoa either. But I do really like a good quinoa salad with olive oil, balsamic, walnuts, feta, lightly cooked baby spinach, shredded carrots, and maybe some raisins. I was going to suggest it until I read the profile part about dairy and nut allergies.

    Best of luck on your journey to eat well. My wife and I decided two years ago to eat more "real" food and less industrially processed stuff. We're happy to see other people doing the same thing.

  2. Thanks for your comment! Your quinoa salad recipe sounds great - I will definitely have to try it...I can leave the cheese off of the portion I give my daughter. Doesn't feta cheese make everything taste great?

  3. Yay... I've been looking for a good quinoa recipe. I actually made it for the first time a few weeks ago. It was bland. I suffered through it, but Andy was horrified by it. I think he'd actually eat your mexican take on it!

    I heard that you have to soak it thoroughly before cooking, otherwise there are some carcinogen properties to it. Have you heard that?