Quick and Creative: Why Quinoa Makes the Perfectly Packed Lunch

Like most collegiates, I love my university. I can speak at length about classes, clubs and extracurricular activities. But, I never thought I’d be so excited to talk about my school’s food. I attend Boston University and I’m proud to say that among its many accolades, another area where BU truly excels is in its cuisine. Instead of having to choose between bad options like when my parents went to school, my biggest dilemma in the dining hall is limiting myself to only one dinner entrée.

I’ve been lucky enough to dine in an amazing space for the past two and a half years, but when I studied abroad in London this past spring, the dining hall unfortunately did not travel across the pond with  me.

One of my favorite London drinks!

One of my favorite London drinks!

On the weekends, my peers and I enjoyed traditional English pub food – freshly battered fish and chips finished with a crisp cider, which was a delicious option, but not always the healthiest. After a month of pasta and peanut butter sandwiches, I started to research a better lunch option to pack for the work week. Quinoa was the perfect solution.

Source: un.org

Source: un.org

I was originally attracted to quinoa after reading that the UN deemed 2013 the International Year of Quinoa due to its incredible nutritional value. Although quinoa, pronounced “keen-wa” has only recently become a popular item in nearby grocery stores, it’s been a major food crop in other countries for centuries.  It was a staple in the pre-Columbian culture in Latin America and is still a dominant crop for the Quechua and Aymara peoples of the rural Andes region of South America, where in the Quechua language quinoa affectionately translates to “mother grain.”

Source: realfoodforlife.com

Source: realfoodforlife.com

Prepared either creamy or crunchy, quinoa is a great dish for anyone with an active lifestyle. It is incredibly easy to make as it can be boiled – or easily reheated in the microwave with water – for simply ten minutes. For anyone preparing their own lunch, it holds incredibly well. Quinoa is packed with many health benefits (which you can read more about here), but what I love is that it keeps me full for the entire afternoon.

Sarah 4

Source: cookinglight.com

Quinoa’s best asset is that it allows for creativity – even if you’re new to the cooking scene like me! I  enjoy a kale and quinoa salad sprinkled with sliced almonds and feta cheese, but often I would chop up various vegetables the night before, add some olive oil before lunch and enjoy an entirely new creation! There is nothing worse than having the same boring lunch that you had the day before, but with quinoa one package can provide a base for a week’s worth of lunches while also giving you the option to change spices and additions from day to day.

Here is a delicious recipe from the National Honey Board (client) to get you started on your quinoa quest. What is your favorite combination? Please feel free to comment with new favorite recipes!

Fruit and Mint Quinoa Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Source: honey.com

Source: honey.com