As I sit here groaning and bemoaning the "Sick Truck" that ran me over sometime yesterday evening, I'm grateful to our resident foodini for taking the time to tell you all about our recent trek in Haleakala's surreal crater, and the superfood that apparently fueled us. Let's get to another edition of A Yogini in Love... With Food.
Quinoa- The Rolls Royce of Grains with a Z8 Kick
by Teresa Alison Wessling
I just climbed Machu Pichu. Well, I didn’t really climb Machu Pichu, but the part of Haleakala I did climb sure looked just like it. As I stood at the floor of the crater looking up at the jagged green cliff face that appeared and disappeared from behind the chilly mist, I had absolutely no idea that the trail we were on was actually about to climb that very peak. I thought surely the trail would wind around this monolith, and we would ascend to our end point by a gradual and beautiful stroll. Not so much. I believe the quote of the day was, “this was not in the guidebook.”
The switchbacks were helpful. The altitude, gusting winds, and cold driving rain were not. I reached a point where I gave up on trying to dig Kleenex out from underneath my emergency rain poncho and “water resistant” jacket, and just blew my nose on my fleece gloves since the rain would rinse them off straight away and I could squeeze the snot and water out every few minutes just by clenching my fists. I did my best to keep my head down, my tongue in jiva banda, maintain ujayii pranayama, and put one foot in front of the other, over and over again.
Here’s the crazy thing... I loved it. I was cold, wet, and happy. While there is a part of me that has masochistic tendencies, they usually revolve around long work hours versus mountain climbing fantasies. I had dismally failed at maintaining the training regimen I had set out for myself, was way out of shape, and yet I slowly and methodically made my way up that trail without a whimper out loud and even more surprisingly no grumbling to myself.
I have to attribute some of that to the awesomeness of Haleakala. To feel like you’re really on the moon, bounding forward on sinking turf just like an astronaut, big backpack and all is a truly remarkable experience. One I look forward to repeating very soon, but not without my quinoa!
The breakfast of champions my friends, and dinner too for that matter, I believe the quinoa made it all possible. We’ve often referred to it amongst our clan as the “Rolls Royce of grains.” I’m now adding to the phrase “with a Z8 kick” because the power derived can only be compared to my favorite 4.9 liter V8.
Naturally gluten free, easy to cook, and readily available in any grocery store, quinoa has become my go to side dish to complement any meal where rice or potatoes would have previously done the trick.
Quinoa (KEEN-WAH) is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Nutrient rich and high in antioxidants, quinoa’s cultivation dates back to the Incas who considered this grain to be sacred. After making it up the Halemau’u Trail, I consider it to be pretty sacred too.
We had hiked into the crater the night before, and packed in the ingredients for a curry with coconut milk and quinoa for dinner (see previous blog post for recipe). Our friend Scott suggested heating up the leftover quinoa in the morning for breakfast, and I’ll have to say that topped with a little black tea and sugar, this may be my new favorite hot cereal. At the very least it will be my new hiking fuel, and like many lessons from this trip will be something I keep using forever.
There are so many ways to enjoy quinoa – for some more ideas, please see the suggestions from our friends at Whole Foods below:
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad.
- Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
- For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa.
- Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
- Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups.
- Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.
- Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat with which this Middle Eastern dish is usually made.
For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.