Join my current quinoa kick!

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Hello, my friends! It’s the most beautiful morning here in central Indiana, and I’m so grateful for the warmth and sunshine that spring brings. It thaws the chill from my winter-weary bones. 

Since spring is the time of greater light, it usually is a time of lightened up eating for me as well. My new eating passion is replacing simple carbs with complex ones, and my primary way of doing that is to use quinoa in the place of simpler carbohydrates like pasta and white rice. I’ve also been using vegetables in the place of simple carbs, and I’ll share some of those recipes with you soon. 

The newest recipe I’ve created is called quinoa con pollo. Now, arroz (rice) con pollo has always been one of my favorite things to eat. I’ve shared the recipe previously on the blog. The other day when I went to make it, though, I thought that if I used quinoa in the place of rice I would have a healthier dish. But could I still get the same rich, complex, delicious flavors and textures with quinoa? I decided to make it and find out. The conclusion to the experiment was that it was just as yummy and amazing as it is when rice is used in the recipe. And swapping rice for quinoa resulted in a bigger bang for my nutritional buck, which was my ultimate goal. I’d like to share the recipe with you now; come along for the ride! 
Valerie’s Quinoa Con Pollo

  • 1 whole chicken cut up
  • 1 teaspoon annato paste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 onion quartered 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • Red pepper quartered
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups chicken broth 
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped black, green or Greek olives- pitted
  • 1 roasted red pepper (optional)

  
First, take your cut-up chicken and salt and pepper it on both sides. 

  
Next, add the EVOO and annato paste to a large skillet on medium heat, and stir until the paste is melted into the oil. Annato paste adds a nutty flavor and rich golden color to the chicken, but is totally optional if you don’t have it.  Then add the chicken to the pan and brown for three minutes on each side. Remove from skillet to a plate to rest for a few minutes.

  
Then, take the garlic, onion, jalapeño pepper, red pepper, tomato and cilantro and throw them into a blender. Blend the ingredients for a minute until smooth, and then add them to the skillet. This is called soffrito, and is a blend of ingredients that is a staple of Mexican cooking. 

  
Stir occasionally and cook for 5 minutes until thickened and bubbly. 

  
Add the quinoa to the soffrito and simmer for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed into the quinoa. Put chicken back into the pan, and then add the chicken broth. Toss the olives in as well. 

  
Cover and cook for about 25 minutes or until the liquid in the pan is absorbed and the quinoa is soft. 

  
Garnish the chicken with the roasted red pepper and a few leaves of cilantro. Eat and try not to make loud yummy noises! 🙂

The quinoa adds twice the protein, half the carbs, 2 1/2 times the fiber, and twice the iron for the same number of calories as rice. It’s a true nutritional powerhouse, especially if organic quinoa is used. I really didn’t miss the rice in this dish, I promise!  I hope my Mexican grandma isn’t going to send down her disapproval from heaven for changing a dish of such rich cultural heritage, but I think if she tried it, she’d approve! Let me know what you think when you try it. Making healthy but delicious swaps in your meals will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

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