​ Quinoa: a healthy grain or a deadly dish? Let’s discuss.



Why, why, why did I say I was going to blog about quinoa? Honestly, if I hadn’t written it down I would have made this recipe and moved on, never letting it grace the pages of my blog.


I did talk about it, so here we are. Let’s talk about quinoa, reader.


The devil grain seed.


What is quinoa?


Apparently, it’s a seed and not a grain like I have been led to believe. It’s also low calorie, high protein (it has more protein than any other grain or seed), and is full of calcium, lysine, B vitamins, and iron. It has a lovely earthy taste and is the perfect replacement for grains like rice.


The cherry on top of the tree is that it’s gluten-free and easily digestible. Perfection in seed form!


Sara, that sounds great! What is your issue with quinoa?


Well, I’m in the small percentage of people that get extremely adverse reactions to quinoa. I’m talking 24-hour long stomachache, nausea, and such a hard digestion I couldn’t eat anything else for over a day.


Yeah. So that was fun.


Now, anyone who has ever cooked quinoa will tell you that it needs to be either very well rinsed (we’re talking several minutes under running water which is super environmentally friendly) or downright soaked (though some experts advise against it). This is because quinoa is coated in saponin, a soapy, bitter substance that makes it unattractive to pests and humans alike; rinsing or soaking should get rid of the saponin and the whole issue.


Ask me if I rinsed my quinoa, dear reader. I did, the first time I cooked it. Asked me if I soaked. I did, the second time I cooked it. Ask me if either made a difference.


It did not. I tried quinoa several times, rinsing it, soaking it, eating with nothing else, and the end result was always the same. Unbearable stomach pain.


Considering everyone else in my family ate the quinoa and loved it, suffering none of my issues, I have to assume the issue is my stomach and not the quinoa. I’m paying my allergy doctor a visit soon, so I’ll be sure to mention this.


Even though everyone around me has been shocked (seriously, shocked), I know I’m not the only person on the planet to have an adverse reaction to quinoa so proceed with caution.


It’s All Good and Quinoa


It’s All Good only contains about six quinoa recipes (I was surprised, I thought it’d be a bigger staple food), including a recipe for making perfect quinoa every time.


My family favorite is the easy Leftover Quinoa, the savory version (Breakfast chapter, page 33). It’s just quinoa, greens, and an egg, but it really is a really delicious recipe (if painful for some).


That portion is a lie, for the record.


It starts with a repetition of how to make Perfectly Cooked Quinoa (page 178). After rinsing (which Gwyneth and Julia call a step that is only necessary for flavor being FACTUALLY WRONG IN THEIR OWN GODDAMN BOOK), you put the quinoa in a pot of water over heat, boil, then simmer, until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa germs look like spirals.


I’m a microwave gal, so I did this with my microwave.



Their trick is to place a paper towel between the pot and the lid, letting the quinoa sit for at least 5 minutes, before fluffing it with a fork.



Quinoa done, next up are the fillings!


The recipe calls for kale, but that’s not a thing in my country, so I used turnip greens instead. I just cooked it in a pan with some olive oil and minced garlic.



Added the cooked and fluffed quinoa. Seasoned with salt and pepper.



And scooped it into a bowl. My biggest issue with this recipe is that the portion that it calls for, half a cup of quinoa, is insanely little for one person, even for breakfast. This is what half a cup looks like on a normal bowl.



It’s basically what hunger looks like. And nothing like the picture in the book looks like.



Then you have to add either a poached or a fried egg on top of it. I went poached because it’s healthier and just as tasty.


(The cookbook also has recipes for poached and olive oil fried eggs on page 278, but since I know how to do both I just skipped that page.)


Final Result:



It’s easy and genuinely delicious, so if you’re looking for a healthy meal and aren’t allergic to quinoa, this recipe is definitely a strong contender. Ignore the quantities though, unless you’re hardcore dieting (which looking at Gwyneth, she probably always is).


Tomorrow: can chicken soup really heal all wounds? We investigate.



Sara A.


Leave a Reply