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If you aren’t incorporating quinoa (keen-wa) into your regular diet; than I would highly recommend that you start.
Quinoa is unique because it’s actually a seed and is also a complete protein (unlike rice & wheat-based carbs), which makes it great for vegetarian meals. It’s also gluten-free; making it very easy to digest.
Eating foods that are easily digestible is extremely important. I’ve talked about the importance of digestion in past posts, but I want to stress it again. Most health problems stem from digestion problems. If your body is busy working on digesting your food; it’s not focusing on anything else and we experience system shut-down: our immune system doesn’t function properly, toxins build up from undigested food sitting around, our liver becomes overloaded and can’t filter our blood properly, etc.
Foods that are most easily digested are raw, live foods such as, fruit, veggies, seeds, nuts, legumes & beans because they are full of digestive enzymes. This means our body doesn’t have to expel energy making digestive enzymes; the food digests itself! I’ve also talked about proper food combining as a way to improve your digestion.
I read an interesting article recently in “City Bites magazine” about a local chef who adopted a completely raw food diet. Before making the switch he was 20 pounds overweight and was on a number of medications for different health problems. After making the switch to raw food; he lost 20 pounds, his health problems went away and he is no longer on any medication. His name is Francesco Comito, and he’s now a raw food chef and owner of “Make it Raw” (distributes raw gourmet food to stores & restaurants). I also stumbled across an interesting Toronto Star interview with him where he talks more about his raw food diet, and what it’s done for his health.
I’m not suggesting that you only eat raw foods from now on, but I do recommend incorporating more raw food into your diet to improve your digestion & overall health.
Quinoa is not a raw food, but it’s a great vegetarian meal option (because it’s a complete protein, and will fill you up) and easy on the digestive system. I adapted this recipe from the Fall 2011 Food & Drink magazine – enjoy!
Mushroom Quinoa Risotto
1 cup of quinoa (red or white)
2 cups of organic vegetable stock (or water)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 small onion
1 large clove of garlic (minced)
1 package of cremini mushrooms (the pre-washed, pre-sliced are a huge time-saver)
Salt & pepper to taste
Bring 2 cups of stock or water up to a boil. Once boiling, sprinkle in quinoa, turn heat down to low, cover & simmer for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Once finished, drain the quinoa and keep what’s left of the liquid.
Heat oil & butter in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent.
Add in the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes, add the garlic and leftover stock or water (if you don’t have enough leftover liquid, just add more water if you need more cooking liquid).
Once mushrooms are cooked, stir in the quinoa and serve.
Tip: this is a very simple recipe so there is room to add different ingredients & veggies to change up the flavour – try adding olives or sundried tomatoes to give it some Italian flavours, you can also add beets or carrots for some crunch or sprinkle with parmesan or feta cheese.