Welcome to the age of the health nuts, where vodka shots are replaced with kale shots and you live in your active wear. Adopting a clean eating plan is both liberating and self-loathing, in my case. I always decide to go on a diet or a new health eating regiment right after a nice grease-soaked, heart-stopping meal. Eating healthy is easier said than done. It requires more willpower than trying to fit into your favorite pair of jeans during your time of month.
There are many big fads now when it comes to clean eating and dieting. One thing I decided to invest in when doing my extreme makeover: diet edition, was this grainy, barley-like substance called Quinoa. From what I’ve seen circling around the health nut trends, quinoa has gone from the **bottom of the totem pole to A-lister** in a blink of an eye. So, about a month ago I bought my ticket to the quinoa express train to see what the hype was all about. Growing up on white rice based meals gave quinoa very big shoes to fill. With my new diet plan etched in stone, it was an emotional goodbye to my beloved basmati rice and hello to a unfamiliar organic new friend.
Okay so I’m a bit of a stubborn drama queen who doesn’t want to give up tasty comfort food, but I assure you that I went in with a very open mind. Surprisingly, even to me, that last part isn’t a lie. I can truly and honestly say that quinoa has been a major game changer. Like any romantic relationship, if you experiment with different levels of spices it can be a total knockout! Now since this is an honest review I’m going to lay out the good, bad, and ugly from my whole quinoa experience.
Pro: A little goes a long way.
At first, I was a little disappointed to see that all of the packets of quinoa were no bigger than a bag of Corn Nuts. When you’re comparing it to your regular 10 ton bag of rice, you’d think this wouldn’t last you more than 2 uses. To my surprise, one cup (typical serving size) is really all you need. Even with one cup I always had some leftovers. Especially if you’re eating alone most nights, like me, then you can get a lot of “quin-bang” for your buck.
Con: Can’t take the heat.
Treat cooking your quinoa like you’re having suspicions of your significant other being unfaithful. KEEP YOUR EYE ON IT AT ALL TIMES. This is very important, much like rice but more delicate. When you leave rice to cook longer, the outer layers turn crispy brown and you have some time before it blackens. In the case of quinoa, those small devils have a shorter life span and will go from nice and golden to burnt ash in a blink of an eye. My advice is to cook for the said amount of time but as it nears the last couple minutes turn down the heat. This will give you more time to get it to that nice bronzed color.
Pro: Jam packed with a lot of healthy stuff that’s hard to pronounce.
I could go on and on about the benefits of quinoa but my quinoa will burn to dust by the time I’m finished reading off the good nutrients it provides. Just know that it’s an excellent source of protein and fiber. That’s all I needed to hear to jump on the bandwagon.
Con: Full tummy, hungry wallet.
Sadly like everything else that’s good for you there’s a price and it ain’t cheap. I buy my 16oz. packet of quinoa from Trader Joe’s for $3.49 a piece. Sounds cheap, until you find yourself buying about 3-4 bags a week. It goes a long way, if you use it wisely. Also, if you compare it to a 20lb bag of basmati rice that goes for $20, you’re most certainly being robbed blind!
Quinoa cooking tips with Sprightly Founders, Lily and Emily: Season with saffron or turmeric(1 ½ tablespoons) then you can eat it with tofu, chicken or shrimp; with a side of broccoli or brussel sprouts.