morning quinoa

I love quinoa!  We don’t eat it as often as we should but when we do it is always in a dinner dish.  But when I started reading 101 Cookbooks, this recipe was the first post I saw.  It immediately hooked me.  The Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa recipe is from Dr. John La Puma’s Chef MD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine.  I toasted extra pecans and not only sprinkled them on top as the recipe instructs but also stirred them into the cooked quinoa.
I’ve been reading tons of recipes in Runners World that call for quinoa, so decided to do a little more research. Okay…I thought it was a grain. It’s not.  It’s grain-like. Ha!  It is actually a seed.  When cooked, it’s wonderfully fluffy with an outer crunch.  This seed has a nutty quality and is extremely versatile.  It takes about 20 minutes to cook so you might think this would not be a good quick-fix, weekday breakfast. But don’t cast it off that quickly. When I made this particular recipe, while the quinoa was simmering, I toasted the nuts, washed the blackberries, fed the dog, cleaned his bowls, cleaned up the kitchen, took out the trash and brushed my teeth {in the bathroom sink, not the kitchen, thank you…gross}.  So it can be done without messing up your get-to-work schedule.

But why do I keep finding it in recipes in running magazines? I figured it was healthy but really had no clue as to how healthy.  Turns out quinoa is considered a ‘complete protein’ because it contains all the essential amino acids.  It is loaded with fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium and lysine.  All good things for runners, especially the last item.  Lysine is integral in cellular repair.  Exercise causes small ‘tears’ in your muscles, that is why it is important to take rest days.  Lysine helps ‘repair’ these tears, improving recovery after exertion.  And red quinoa has an extra boost of anti-oxidants.  {Plus it’s pretty.}  Okay, I get it now.  Healthy, versatile, easy to cook, nice nutty flavor.  No wonder quinoa was treasured by the Incas.
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