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Five Things You Might Not Know About Quinoa

By San Diego Dining Dish

When I was in Peru last year, many were extolling the virtues of this "new" superfood. Quinoa might not be new to some, but it is an incredible grain that should be part of everyone's diet. Read on for a round-up of where you can get it in San Diego!

It tastes good and it is good for you. These two qualifications don’t always go together like a horse and carriage. If you haven’t heard about quinoa, you’re behind the times. Our list of the top five things you should know about this grain, touted as a “super food,” will catch you right up:

It sounds funny

Although quinoa sounds a bit highfalutin, it’s easy to say: “keen-wah.” It’s even easier to order when served alongside a dinnertime staple like roasted chicken. If you’re new to the quinoa craze, start out with Brick Roasted Chicken with stewed kale, smoked quinoa risotto and thyme roasted garlic jus from Pacific Beach Alehouse.

It’s a dieter’s dream

Calling it a “super food” might be an insult. Some see quinoa as a weight loss “wonder food.” High in fiber and protein, the grain can make one feel fuller than empty white pasta or another starch. For a double shot of good grains, try the new Hillcrest hot spot, Heat Bar and Kitchen. Order the Toasted Quinoa and Faro, served with beats, goat cheese, dates and olives. A one-serving wonder, quinoa contains approximately seven grams of protein and six grams of dietary fiber.

It’s not typical

From sausages to potato cakes, quinoa is showing up in a variety of dishes. For example, vegetarians can revisit the world of sausage at Salt and Cleaver. The new restaurant, slated to open on April 15, serves up a sausage called The Faceless. Filled with quinoa, asparagus, peppers and cauliflower, this sausage is wrapped in a cauliflower leaf and served on a hot dog-style bun. Might we also suggest cake for dinner? Union Kitchen and Tap in Encinitas serves Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes with ratatouille and a shaved asparagus salad. Surprised? We thought so.

Five Things You Might Not Know About Quinoa

It’s served hot and cold

Call it the chameleon of grains, quinoa is best served hot. Or cold. Uptown Tavern takes sweet yellow corncobs, de-kernels them and adds a house quinoa blend with mixed greens and an artichoke vinaigrette for their refreshing spring salad. Combining a mixture of cooked and raw components makes the Roasted Corn and Quinoa Salad a new favorite which is both earthy and acidic in flavor.

It has strong roots

With a texture akin to barley, quinoa is lighter and fluffier, similar to a well-prepared couscous. Couscous is pasta traditionally from Morocco, which has found a local flavor at Bite M.e. in the Gaslamp District where it hits the menu alongside Mediterranean-inspired favorites. Quinoa, however, is a whole grain which is commonly sourced from South America. Don’t get these two cousins confused.