I never thought I’d be able to write so much about QUINOA! I’m excited for this 3-part blog post series.
For starters, some people are dubbing quinoa the “Superfood of 2013” – don’t take my word for it, see here . And Dr. Oz has used it in his cleansing diet, among other popular celebrities. That might be why Quinoa Cookbooks  are popping up all over the place!
So what is quinoa? According to Wikipedia: Quinoa “is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous.”
Where is the best place to buy quinoa locally? Well, I took a trip to Whole Foods!
I walked into Whole Foods  on a Sunday afternoon during their local food truck rodeo event. The whole supermarket was buzzing with savvy, health-conscious shoppers. I have never been to such a friendly store in all of Hampton Roads, honestly. It was almost a social event! There were employees giving demonstrations in the produce section, while other experts were further back in the store whipping up a new recipe and handing out samples to customers as they walked through the store. Local food trucks gathered outside in the parking lot and customers congregated with their families eating BBQ, cupcakes and more. The whole atmosphere made you want to stay there longer and mingle, chat, and learn more about healthy foods.
I had the pleasure of meeting Maria. She is their local marketing gal and a bustling multi-tasker. She proceeded to escort me around the store and inform me of everything from trail mix to mango salsa to kale, guacamole and more. She then recommended the Quinoa section!
Almost immediately I was excited to learn more. She introduced me to the different varieties: white, red, black, and tri-colored. Quinoa is so popular right now, they were evening running low on the white. A friendly shopper beside me (whose husband plays for the Admirals hockey team) demonstrated how you actually use the machines to fill bags there. We started talking about AFrugalChick.com  and lost track of time!
Ok – back to the quinoa. At Whole Foods, you take plastic bags and fill your own portion sizes of quinoa, beans, sunflower seeds, and more by lifting a lever. Then you grab a sticker and marker and write the item number and name of the item on the bag. It’s simple to do and you can use the lever to gauge how much of something you’d like (just be careful not to pull too hard or the contents come pouring out into your bag)! I filled up bags of black quinoa, red quinoa, and the tri-colored quinoa. Quinoa is very “frugal-friendly” as well – I think all 3 bags of quinoa cost $10 and have made at least 5 meals at my house. Quinoa Quick Tip: For added flavor, after you rinse off your quinoa, boil in chicken stock instead of water (this came from the customer above who showed me how to use the machines).
Maria recommended lots of fantastic recipes which I am excited to share with you. These include a Quinoa Salad Recipe, Tuna Tabouli and Quinoa & Kale Pilaf. She also recommended the book below which talks about all the ways to make the items in their store. There are instructions in the manual on Quinoa as well and you can pick one up at our local Whole Foods (located in Hilltop).
Here is the first recipe – Quinoa Salad. This is something Maria likes to make at home for her family!
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 bunch spinach, washed and patted dry
One apple, sliced and cubed
Handful sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons feta cheese
Prepare quinoa as directed in the “Cooking Basics” manual. Add the quinoa, spinach, apple slices, cranberries, sunflower seeds and feta together in salad. Mix well.
Add salad dressing. Enjoy!
Notes: Maria suggested sunflowers seeds as an addition to most recipes. They are a great, crunchy addition and very healthy for you, too. You can find them in the same front section of Whole Foods near the uncooked quinoa machines.
More quinoa recipes and tips coming soon. Trust me, you’ll want to stay tuned on this one. There might even be a giveaway!