October 7, 2012

food & fitness: grains and legumes

In Food & Fitness class most everybody is non-culinary, and cooking with them has been a different experience, in a good way. Everybody is really eager to work together and learn, and even pitch in with menial tasks like dishes. Definitely didn't expect everybody to be so on top of it, but maybe my team just rocks :)

red team

We were assigned to do a hummus-like garbanzo spread. There was no tahini involved, but we made two versions of the spread and put sesame seeds in one. I like hummus better though.

garbanzo spread

I think the main point being made was that grains + legumes together give us the entire set of proteins that our body needs. Common grains are rice and wheat, with whole grains being vastly better for us because they contain the germ (essential nutrients) and bran layer (fiber). Common legumes are peas, beans and lentils.

It really amazes me that so many cultures have the grain + legume foundation to fulfill people's protein needs so that meat becomes secondary. Think about it, Latin America has rice and beans, East Asia has rice and soy, South Asia has rice and lentils, etc.

black beans & rice

Perhaps inspired by the grain/legume theme in class, I made quinoa at home. I've only made it once before, to eat cold as a salad, but this time I made it hot. Quinoa is unbelievably easy to cook, and it's surprising that more people don't know about it since it's a complete protein in itself!

I put quinoa (with some dried cranberries) in chicken broth, 1 part quinoa to 1.5 parts broth. You basically bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat off and keep the lid on for about 20 minutes while the quinoa cooks.

dry quinoa

Here what it looks like cooked.

cooked quinoa

Then I fluffed it with a fork, and added some chopped parsley (other good additions would have been caramelized onions or orange zest).

fluffed quinoa

I garnished the top with some crushed almonds, although other nuts would work as well. And to make it a complete dinner, I included some stir-fried veggies. Very satisfying, and no meat necessary!

quinoa dinner

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