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Easy Zesty Quinoa Salad


Initially when Quinoa made its first appearance as the new hip grain staple for the health conscious, I, too, tried getting on that band wagon (especially when I heard the word "superfood" associated with it. Such a weighty word for such tiny grains gave me hope - it sounded like something that can cure it all, including aging, weight gain, memory loss, beauty enhancement with no need to get my drift...) and fell right off as immediately as I got on. From the process of washing it, to trying to get all those tiny little grains out of my strainer and then only to end up with a pot of tasteless watery mush, quickly turned me off to this trendy staple. However, about two weeks ago, I spotted boxed Quinoa in every different flavor variety at the grocery store. Figuring that anything in a box often requires minimal work and is usually quick cooking, I took another crack at making it, except this time, I prepared it differently than my initial attempt. This tried and true fresh summery version turned out so tasty that it's become one of my main meals for dinner the past couple of weeks.

Giving this grain another try has helped me to realize its versatility for the numerous ways it can be prepared/flavored. But most of all, I have a newfound respect for it after finding out why it's called a "superfood." Nutritionists have found that Quinoa is low in sugar, starch and rich in fiber and unsaturated oils. It contains many essential minerals and vitamins. But most attractive of all is the protein in Quinoa - 50 percent more than in wheat, oats, barley, or rice and of superior quality. It contains an ideal balance of the amino acids that we need, including an important one called lysine that is normally scarce in vegetable protein and plentiful only in meat, fish, and eggs. That is why some experts call Quinoa an ideal food. Quinoa certainly proves that good things do come in small packages or as I would say "tiny but mighty." Sorry, I completely digressed. Anyway, here's how I made this easy zesty Quinoa this time around.


2 boxes of Quinoa (1 roasted garlic + herbs flavor and 1 mushroom + vegetable medley)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup EVOO
1 lime, zest and juiced
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes or 1 jalapeno, chopped


Cook the grains according to the package directions. In the meantime, whisk together lime juice, cumin, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a bowl. Once Quinoa is all done, combine it with tomatoes, green onions, black beans. Pour over the dressing; stir in the chopped parsley, toss to coat. Season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for the the rest of the week. Heads up, it tastes even better the next day!


Tip: This is a great recipe to make on a Sunday to bring either for lunch at work or have as dinner for the beginning of the week, so you won't have to deal with that gnawing dreadful question, "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?" after a long Monday at work. What's nice about this dish is that you can add any other protein to it besides the beans, such as steamed shrimp, chunks of turkey and/or roasted chicken from the supermarket (skin removed of course).

Bon Appetit!

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