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The healthy benefits of KEEN-wah

Quinoa, pronounced “kEEn-wah” is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. You can find Quinoa throughout the year at most local health food stores or Whole Foods.

Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete (a trait it shares with other “non-true” grains such as buckwheat and amaranth). Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and folic acid.  For those who can’t eat gluten, you’ll be happy to hear it is gluten-free.  Don’t forget that maintaining a healthy diet increases your ability to stay healthy and feel young.

Although you may think of quinoa as a grain, it is actually the seed of a plant that is actually related to beets, chard and spinach.

Here is a tasty quinoa recipe perfect for spring!

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Yellow Grape Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Basil and Mint

Make this tabbouleh inspired quinoa early in the day, allowing the Mediterranean flavors deepen as it chills.

You’ll need:

1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked quinoa
A handful of sweet grape tomatoes- yellow is low acid, and delicious
1 carrot, grated
4 scallions, sliced (white and light green sections)
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, whole or pitted and chopped
1/3 cup slivered nuts- pecans, almonds or walnuts
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons or limes, depending upon size
Rub the clove of raw garlic inside a glass or ceramic salad bowl.

While the cooked quinoa is still a bit warm (but not steaming hot) scoop it into a bowl and fluff with a fork.

Halve or quarter the yellow tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Add in the grated carrot, sliced scallions, Kalamata olives, and slivered nuts. Toss lightly to combine.

Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Add the chopped fresh herbs. Drizzle the salad with extra virgin olive oil- enough to moisten. Toss to distribute. Squeeze a lemon or a lime all over the salad and toss.

Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. When the seasoning tastes right, cover and chill until serving (at least one hour, but a few is even better).

Before serving, taste again and readjust seasonings if you need to.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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