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People are often a bit skeptical of quinoa and I understand why: anyone who has eaten leaden, tasteless 1970s-era vegetarian food has probably had a scarring experience with it. Even Thrifty Gal, who enjoys her veggie grub, looked at me sideways when I suggested cooking it for her. But here’s the thing – quinoa is easy to make, its nutty flavour is a great base for a spring meal, and it is unbelievably good for you. Check this out: this ancient Andean foodstuff is full of essential amino acids, it can help protect against heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer, and it can even reduce the frequency of migraines. As a sufferer of quite unpleasant headaches, this last point had me planning a quinoa-centric diet, but even if you want to emphasise flavour rather than health, quinoa is one of the tastiest of the so-called ancient grains. It’s actually not a grain at all but technically a grass, which is why I always cook it during Passover, but it functions like a grain in cooking. I think the trick is to combine it with lots of vegetables so that it provides a nutty counterpoint rather than a protein-heavy mouthful. This dish came from my obsession with those superfood salads you can buy in Chopped and other salad places. I absolutely love all of those supposedly super-good-for-you ingredients of beets, dark greens and seeds and as it turns out they mesh splendidly with quinoa. Read the rest of this entry »

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