Summer Salad With Quinoa & Mock Chicken

Sean and I love the fake chicken. Little chicken nugget is a wheat gluten (protein) and soy product that does not have the funny “I’m a fake meat” taste. If you are expecting chicken or steak, you will be disappointed. I like to think of it as a new way to eat vegetables or tofu. The cool thing is that it sears like a meat so you get that nice charred, not burned, flavor. We have found that the perfect food to pair this with (nutritionally) is Quinoa.

Quinoa is a grain that was a staple of the Inca civilization. It contains more protein than any other grain, containing an average of 16.2  percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. Some varieties of Quinoa are more than 20 percent protein. Quinoa’s protein is of an unusually high quality. It is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to ideal. Quinoa’s protein is  high in lysine, methionine and cystine. This makes it an excellent food to combine with and boost the protein value of other grains (which are low in lysine) or soy (which is low in methionine and cystine).

For all those who are eating low carb and high protein diets, this is it! When you use, as we do, a wheat gluten or soy product as your main source of protein, it is a perfect combo with Quinoa (pronounced keen wa). I am not a chemist or nutritionist, but my understanding is that when you remove the starch from wheat or soy, you are left with the protein nucleus of that grain or vegetable. It is healthy, but deficient. Combining the fake chicken with Quinoa is a natural choice both for health and flavor.

Quinoa has a cous cous like texture, but more of a nutty grain flavor. Remember that I am from Hawaii when I say, “although clearly not rice, it is a suitable rice/starch substitute.” Just like if you bite into “mock” anything and expect Filet Mignon, you will be disappointed with Quinoa if what you expect is rice or mashed potatoes. It is a unique, interesting, and healthy grain. It can be served either hot or cold, but for today’s recipe we will be serving a salad with cranberries and fresh mint.

Recipe:

1-2 lb Chicken breast meat or 1 bag little nugget “mock” chicken
3 cups Quinoa cooked
3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1-2 TBLspoon chopped fresh mint
8 TBLspoons extra virgin olive oil
good pinch rock salt

Directions:

Grill breast meat and set aside to cool, then cube. If you are using “mock” chicken follow directions in the video. Cook Quinoa in a rice cooker or in a sauce pan with lid on the stove. If you are using a rice cooker follow the directions for rice. Put 3 Japanese cups of Quinoa in the cooker and fill with water to line marked three then hit start. That is 2 1/4 cups (us) to 3 cups water if you have lost your rice measuring cup that came with the rice cooker. Use these measurements also if you are cooking on the stove.  When you put your finger in the water it should come to the first knuckle when the tip of your finger is touching the rice/Quinoa. Cook Quinoa on high until all water is gone about 15 minutes then shut off heat and let steam covered for about twenty minutes. Toss with cranberries, olive oil, and salt then set aside to cool. Add mint last so it doesn’t get cooked. For a nice presentation place Quinoa salad on a bed of mixed greens that you have tossed in a light dressing and place chicken on top.

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