The Wind that Shakes the Quinoa (or how I learned to clear a room fast)

IMG_1346I wanted to like quinoa. I really did.

It was the early 1989 – before the earthquake – and Whole Foods was the new kid on the block. It was a great place to grab a Martian Martini (orange juice with spirolina) between jobs. I was an artist’s model then, and an artist. Struggling but happy. And I wanted to be healthy.

So – in the same way that I believe a new haircut can be a life altering experience, I believed that if I purchased my food from Whole Foods my body would thank me by becoming healthy. Of course in 1989 my version of health had more to do with what I looked like on the outside and less to do with how I felt on the inside.

Still, I was on my way to a perfect life. If only I could handle quinoa.

It’s not that I didn’t like the taste. At the time Whole Foods sold a quinoa salad that was amazing.   When I tried to make the same salad at home, however, it had a disturbing influence on my bowels. To put it delicately, the salad made me windy. Gaseous. Flatulent. And I mean “Danger, danger clear the room Will Fartinson” bad.

But then I learned about saponins. Quinoa seeds have an outer coating of saponin. This gives the seed a bitter taste, making it unpalatable to birds. They also do my digestion no favors. In 1989 I did not know I was supposed to rinse my quinoa before cooking. Quarter of a century later and I am the Queen of the Quinoa Salad.

Of course, most commercial quinoa is pre-rinsed in the factory. But that doesn’t stop me. Twenty-five years ago I lost too many friends to a cloud of noxious fumes. I won’t let that happen again.

Here’s how I make my quinoa salad:

  • RINSE THE QUINOA (for the love of everything that is pure and merciful rinse those seeds!)
  • Cook one cup of quinoa in two cups water (this will make about 3 cups of cooked quinoa). Stir occasionally. You can add a splash of olive oil, a bit of bullion or a knob of butter to youIMG_1343r water, but to be honest I prefer just plain water. You’ll know your quinoa is cooked when you have a pot full of grains that look like tiny, tiny condoms.
  • Dice a red onion and sweat over low heat. Raw onion overpowers the delicate flavor of quinoa.
  • IMG_1344While the onion is cooking prep the remaining vegetables. I like a combination of carrot, celery, red radish, bell pepper and cucumber.


  • Add herbs of your choice. I recommend basil or cilantro.
  • Dress with a light vinaigrette – olive oil, tons of fresh lemon, a splash of balsamic.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chill for a few hours and then enjoy!

Progress Report #2: Perspective and Trivial Pursuits


At the end of the day, it comes down to perspective.

I’ll begin by reporting that the newly acquired notebooks served their intended purpose. They brought back a linear quality to my journey and the hope that life was moving forward in a line that while not necessarily straight as an arrow at least curved only so much that I could still see what lurked around the corner.

But I forgot to look out for what was coming up from behind.

I practice working with this affirmation. Repeating it provides a momentary lift.

It’s difficult to write about trivial pursuits while mothers with their babies fight for life and then drown anyway.   It’s difficult to write about trivial pursuits when families walk together for days, when fathers mourn and when countries build fences around their borders. It’s difficult.

My NCLP and I join a local gym this month.

While our collective heart breaks with the images coming from CNN, as an individual I feel stripped of power. Prayer is not enough and the feeling of impotence agitates. It’s easier to ignore. It’s easier to believe that someone else will choose rightly.

I acquire a Fitbit from a woman who is trading up to an Apple Watch.

Home and family.

Nothing else matters.

I visit the gym four or five days a week for a cardio workout.

I record the food I am lucky to eat each day on the Fitbit.

I learned more about my family of origin this month and in the process woke ghosts that were better off sleeping. And somehow the news about my past impacts my future. The two are intertwined – my abandoned childhood and the cravings of a heart. I’m struggling to loosen the knot and to see that they are separate.

I recognize the blessing of trivial pursuits.