Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spiced Carrot and Zucchini Quinoa

Today was the first day of physical therapy. It's amazing how in 2 weeks my leg has shriveled to downright puny. My therapist and I had a long discussion on what I could and couldn't do and although I'm sure she thinks I'm chomping on the bit to get back to athletic life, she also says that a metric century (62 mile bicycle ride) in November is a "realistic goal". Yippee! Being the third knee surgery I was pretty scared she was going to tell me that rehab was going to be more conservative. But all my random leg lifts on the couch have apparently done me good and she said that she's pleased with my strength and happy with my range of motion. I can now bend my knee a whole 96 degrees. That's better than I thought I could do! So between chapters of the Cider House Rules I'm flopping around like a fish out of water doing my exercises. I will be strong again!

But what does this have to do with food? Not a whole lot. I'm still eating food the ladies in town are making. I really have to get the recipe for the cube steak that came over on the weekend. It's seriously yummy. But today's recipe I made a while back and is really really healthy. It even contains a food my mother considers as one of my special fancy foods. Quinoa.

Quinoa isn't a new food. It's actually an ancient food from South America. The leaves are edible, but good luck finding them in a grocery store out here in North Central Ohio. Or really I'm not sure where you can find them. Maybe in New York City. Or probably South America. Anyway, I digress. Quinoa, pronounced keenwa, is a pseudocereal because it's not a grass. The ancient Incas called it the "mother of all grains". We eat the seed part of quinoa and it's a complete protein, meaning it has a balanced distribution of all the amino acids. This makes it a very good meal for vegetarians. Quinoa also is gluten free, which is important to a whole lot of people. (thank you wikipedia)

Quinoa also comes in different colors. The white kind is most readily available in larger supermarkets. The red kind tastes a little nuttier than the white kind. Quinoa is also very easy and quick to cook, but they should be rinsed several times before cooking to remove their natural coating of saponin. If the quinoa isn't rinsed the saponin can make it taste soapy and that's no good.

This Spiced Carrot and Zucchini Qunioa recipe I found on Epicurious.com and it really makes a tasty dish. For people who need meat, this makes an excellent side dish. I ate it for lunches as a nutritious and tasty meal all in itself. It's the kind of dish I feel good eating, because it's so tasty and yet I know I'm doing something excellent for my body. Like growing my muscles.

Oh and those 62 mile bike rides are really more like a string of 6, 10 mile bike rides (yes, plus 2 miles) with rest stops with Gatorade, fruit, and Snickers bars in between. And you get all day to do it. Well a large portion of the day. They're a lot of fun and really not that difficult to do. Usually if you get a flat tire or something, other bikers will stop to help you and there's a support vehicle that keeps circling the route. The American Diabetes Association, in most states, has a Tour de Cure every summer that has a 62 mile (100km) option that I did once near Grand Rapids, Michigan with the Queen Geek and had a tremendous amount of fun. They do also have shorter routes too. These bike rides are a great way to support a terrific organization, spend a healthy afternoon, and eat Snickers bars guilt free. What I'll do for a guilt free Snickers bar....

Spiced Carrot and Zucchini Quinoa

4 cups water
2 cups quinoa, rinsed well, drained
2 Tbsp dried currants
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into small cubes
2 medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine first 4 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots; saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini; saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Mix in paprika and cinnamon. Add quinoa to skillet; toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper.


Deborah said...

First of all - Yay for a silver lining! You'll be completely off the couch before you know it!

I've made quinoa once, and still have some in my pantry, but for some reason, I keep forgetting about it. I should try out this salad - it sounds wonderful!

Cynthia said...

Hey, that's a good report that things are on the mend. So sorry for not visiting lately but I have been (still am) swamped with work.

Kitt said...

Love quinoa. Keep doing those exercises and next year you can Ride the Rockies!

glamah16 said...

Sounds like your on the up swing.This is a nice dish for Quinoa. I need to put it on my next shopping list.

Anonymous said...

I tried quinoa with the Picky Eaters Club once. They prefer couscous. Of course. It's a PASTA not a grain.

Which one are you????