Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Diabetes Blog Week Wednesday: Quin-O-a, The Ancient Grain of the Aztecs.

Silly, Kate. Thinking that Diabetes Blog Week was last week, and that I was already late to the game, I posted what Karen has prompted us with today on May 9, 2012 (which also happened to be the day that my nephew came into the world: happy birthday, Baby E!). So, because of that, I am opting for a Wild Card post today. Funness!

Prompt: Inspired by DFeast Fridays share a favorite recipe with us.  It can be healthy, or it can be a yummy indulgence.  Extra points if you can include carb counts and other nutrition info!!  If it’s not an original recipe, be sure to properly credit your source.

Here's how my relationship with quinoa began...

It was a dark and stormy night... No. Not really.

"Stormy Night in Blandon" by jmlawlor on Flickr

For realz: One of my absolute favorite childhood memories involves one of my favoritest people in the entire universe, my cousin C, the rest of my wacky, wonderful family, and yes: quinoa.

Let's start with the fact that I come from an... alternative family. No-- not living on a commune, with no electricity, and outhouses. (Well, kind of.) I grew up on Staten Island, obviously known as "Island of Culture and Class!" (And, strip malls and garbage dumps.) I'm not talking down to, or about Staten Island, because I really do love it, but let's just say that my "alternative" family-- who went to the "health food store" (i.e., food co-op) and bought tofu, oat-straw tea, and wheat grass on a regular basis was a little different than many other families living there in the 1980s and 1990s.

My cousin C, who was often at our house, was a "strong American boy," who drank lots of milk, loved (loves) ripple sour cream and onion potato chips,  and did everything, at all costs, to avoid vegetables. In short: he was a normal, adolescent boy circa 1989 when all this happened. Basically, he thought we were all weirdos, when after dinner we would ask for "More salad, please."

So, I had to be about six or seven, and I was playing with one of my Lego people on the kitchen floor. C comes in, and opens the pantry cabinet doors, and reads aloud the food packaging that is directly in front of him:

"Quin-O-a [pronounced "quinn-oh-ah"]: The Ancient Grain of the Aztecs."

And then C asks something to this effect: "What in the name of Sam Hill are you people eating?"

We all just about fell over from roars of laughter.

Maybe you just had to be there.

Suffice it to say, quinoa has been a part of my diet for a long time now. I kind of got sick of it in high school, and didn't eat it a lot when in college, 'cause, let's face it: not a ton of people like it, nor was it really a hot dinner item in colleges from 2000-2004. I've recently rediscovered it (again), and have altered a recipe from the back of the three pound bag The Hub brought back from Costco a couple of weeks ago.

My version calls for:
  • 1 C quinoa
  • 2 C of chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil (preferably an olive oil that is extra virgin, cold pressed, and has some body-- try Spanish olive oil, or Kalamata Olive Oil)
  • 1 smallish yellow onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes (in oil... and in my case, in oil w/ herbs), chopped
  • A handful of pignoli (pine) nuts, toasted
  • A dash more olive oil, and salt/pepper to taste


Put quinoa and stock (or water) into a pot. Bring to simmer, put the heat on low, and cover the pot, allowing quinoa/stock mix to simmer for 11 minutes. Stir once halfway through simmer.

While quinoa is simmering, saute onion in olive oil. When onion has sweat and turns goldeny brown on it's sides, throw in the garlic for 30 seconds (I like my garlic relatively raw-- it has more taste that way!). Turn off heat.

Chop sun dried tomatoes, and lightly toast the pignoli nuts. (In my case, toast them while standing and watching the toaster oven, because I always wind up walking away, and coming back to charred pignoli nuts, having to start the whole process over again.)

Mix everything up, drizzle on more olive oil if needed (or, use 1/2 tsp of butter to melt and stir into the mix), and sprinkle with salt and pepper. This dish is great as a side-- either hot or cold. In fact, I just had some with lunch! It's also great as a standalone snack. Oh, and if you are really in a pinch, you can use dehydrated garlic and onion-- in that case, just throw whatever amount you want of each in with the quinoa when it is simmering.

Finally, based on my guestimation, about a 1/2 C serving of the mix is ~22 carbs. (Based on the fact that 1/2 C of quinoa is about 22 carbs, 2.5 grams of fiber, and around 111 calories. The other stuff is pretty minimal, so I add a carb or two to the net.)

Thank goodness for those ancient Aztecs! Enjoy!

"Quinoa flowering" by net_efeckt on Flickr


  1. This sounds delicious!!! I will have to try this soon!!

  2. This sounds yummy! We used to eat tofu back in the late 80s, but I'm a little late to the Quinoa game. I love it though and so do my kids (4 and 20 months). I'll have to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Yum! I'm such a fan of quinoa and this version sounds delicious!