Thursday, November 8, 2012

Almost -Traditional Quinoa Tabouli

Do you love quinoa and the exotic flavors of the Middle East? This new version of a famous traditional dish will become an addiction you won’t need to quit! It’s easy to make and packs a nutritional punch. Whether you eat it as a side dish or an entrĂ©e, Almost – Traditional Quinoa Tabouli is about as good for you as you can get. Whip up a large batch, put it in your fridge and enjoy! It keeps for 2-3 days, with the flavors blending and maturing for ever-increased yumminess.

This recipe was given to me by a dear friend, who learned to make Tabouli by watching her Lebanese grandmother turn it out year after year. Traditionally, it is made with cracked wheat bulgur,  which she replaces with quinoa in order to avoid gluten and increase the nutrition factor. With just a handful of easily found ingredients and a few simple steps for preparation, anyone can make it!

Before I get to the recipe, here’s a quick run-down of how Almost-Traditional Quinoa Tabouli does your body good.

Quinoa – Although it looks like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed, a relative of spinach and chard. It provides complete protein, making it especially valuable for those who choose to reduce or eliminate animal products from their diet. In addition to its anti oxidants, vitamins and minerals, quinoa also contains all the essential amino acids needed for growing and repairing body tissues.  And because this seed is easily digested, all these wonderful nutrients can readily be accessed by your body. Quinoa is also a good source of insoluble fiber, helping maintain colon health and preventing the formation of gallstones. Plus, it is delicious!

Green Onions – A great source of vitamins A and C, iron and calcium, green onions are an awesome addition to any meal. Onions contain a substance that prevents the formation of blood clots and have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. So, eat up, then brush your teeth for fresh breath!

Parsley – The phyto-nutrient profile of this humble little herb is truly awesome. Rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and essential volatile oils, parsley helps control blood cholesterol levels, prevents constipation, protects the body from free radical damage and helps in the prevention of many types of cancer.

Tomatoes – An excellent source of antioxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins, tomatoes are often recommended by dieticians and nutritionists for controlling cholesterol and reducing weight. The antioxidants present in tomatoes are scientifically found to help prevent cancers, including colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumors. Tomatoes are a unique source of Lycopene, which, together with carotenoids, can protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals, including skin damage from ultra-violet (UV) rays which can lead to skin cancer. Couple this with Zea-xanthin, plentiful in tomatoes, which helps protect eyes from age-related macular degeneration, and you can see why including lots of tomatoes in your diet is a very smart move, indeed.

Lemons – Yet another heavy-hitter in the nutrition department, lemons contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, anti-oxidants, and even protein. The citric acid in lemon helps in digestion and in dissolving kidney stones. Do you want to protect your body from the damage of free radicals, keep your skin, eyes and mucous membranes healthy, and maintain good heart rate and blood pressure? Eat lemons.

Olive OilOrganic extra virgin olive oil is the only kind I use, because it has been shown to be the most beneficial. There’s a good reason that olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean  diet  - studies have long associated olive oil intake with decreased risk of heart disease. Olive oil contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). This means that it helps you have a healthy heart, decreases your blood pressure and helps clear your blood of cholesterol. New research has also shown the role of olive oil in protecting against cancers of the breast, and the respiratory and digestive tracts. It is essential that olive oil be eaten raw, never cooked.

Cayenne Pepper – There are entire books written about the benefits of this spicy herb, and it really deserves a blog post of its own. For now, I’ll just say that the healing properties of cayenne are legendary and you should eat as much of it as you possibly can.

Mint – Known around the world as a digestive aid, mint is rich in Vitamins A and C, as well as a wide range of essential minerals. The chemical compound menthol, which is obtained from peppermint oil, is well known for its healing properties on the chest and respiratory system.

The recipe:

¾ cup organic quinoa
1 ½ cups filtered water
3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2 bunches of green onions, finely chopped
3 bunches of parsley (not Italian parsley), finely chopped
2 Tablespoons dried mint
4-6 Tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil, to taste
fresh juice of 2-3 lemons, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste

Makes 10-12 servings

Quinoa has a natural coating that needs to be rinsed off before cooking, so as to avoid a bitter taste. Rinse and drain the quinoa a couple of times, then place in a pot and add the filtered water. Cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed. After cooking, place it in the refrigerator to cool. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and combine with the other ingredients in a big bowl. Add the cooled quinoa and mix well. And that’s it! Make some today and let me know how much you love it.

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