Quinoa: The Super Summer Superfood

Think superfood and you might imagine spinach, kale, blueberries, or all three in a smoothie. But superfoods probably don’t feature into your Fourth of July barbecue plans. Quinoa is here to change all that. Quinoa is a versatile superfood powerhouse that will meet your nutritional needs all summer long and keep you from slaving over a hot stove. Meet the Quinoa Bowl.

The mega bag of organic quinoa at Costco bears the subtitle “From Andean farmers to your table.” While I love the idea of Andean farmers coming over for supper, I’d be hard-pressed to know what to serve them. Here are some amazing and fast ways you can create and enjoy a Quinoa Bowl you’d be proud to serve to those nice farmers.

Quinoa makes an excellent, nutritious breakfast bowl. Use it as you might use oatmeal.
To prepare:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Dash salt
Dash cinnamon
1 teaspoon or less of vanilla extract
Add-ins of your choice (I recommend raisins, dried apricots, a mashed banana, dried cherries…you get the idea)

In a medium saucepan, bring to quinoa, add-ins, and water to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve with a dollop of butter, maple syrup, toasted nuts, apple slices, orange sections, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, or whatever condiments you might use on your morning oatmeal.

Savory variations for quinoa are as extensive as your imagination. Here are a few ideas to get you started with a delicious Fourth of July worthy Quinoa Bowl:

Choose a protein:
Cooked Meats
Cubed cheese

Choose your veggies:
Celery (a personal favorite for its crunch, flavor, and saltiness)
Sweet peppers
Red onion
Sugar snap peas
Shredded Carrot
Halved cherry tomatoes
Whatever is fresh

Spices, Flavors, and Condiments:
– For an Asian inspired Quinoa Bowl, use a dash of sesame oil, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, shredded ginger, cilantro. Drizzle with Sriracha, tamari, or hoisin sauce.
– For a Mexican inspired Quinoa Bowl, use olive oil, lime juice, chipotle, cilantro. Top with a spoonful of salsa or shredded cheese.
– For an Italian Quinoa Bowl, season with olive oil, lemon juice, toasted garlic, pine nuts, capers, basil, rosemary, sage, parsley, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes.
– For Mediterranean flavors, use olive oil, basil, cucumbers, dill, fennel, feta cheese, garlic, honey, lemon, mint, olive oil, oregano. Top with yogurt.

Bon appétit. Happy picnicking and Happy Fourth!