Quinoa and Work.

It has now been a year and a half that I have been working as a nurse. I absolutely love my job. The work that I do, the energy involved, the patients, my coworkers. It feels incredible to be part of a team, and at the same time have the autonomy to make decisions on how I go about my day, how I help each patient, how I meet their needs, how to get them better.

Sometimes patients are wonderful and very grateful. Other times they treat us nurses like we are not people, a live human being. And how do we deal with it? I am grateful for my fellow nurses who I can talk to.

But ultimately, it rests on me. My own mind. How I decide to take words and energy. Because, really, they are just words. It takes time to learn to keep my own center no matter what. Because I owe that to other patients. But really, I owe it to myself. To take good care of myself. To stay with myself, centered, positive, even energy. Mind, heart... and body.

Which leads to…food.

Because taking care of myself is not only about mind, emotions, and movement. What I eat, what I put in my body, is my fuel. Fuel for the brain, fuel for the body. For thought… and for movement.

I have been taking my own lunches to the hospital since I started doing clinicals as a student. The funny thing is, people made fun of them. I don't know why. But they did. They did in school… and they do at work. And I shrug... and show what I have...

Scones, granola, sandwiches, tofu, salads, grains, soups, roasted vegetables…

And what always makes me smile is… the moment when someone asks me what that food is… and then days, or weeks, or months later… to taste the food… and then…some more time past... the recipe.

The latest recipe I was asked to share was quinoa. So here it goes:

1 cup quinoa, any color
3 cups of boiling water
1 tbsp extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Place the quinoa on a steel pot and heat up on medium heat to roast the quinoa until fragrant. This is the secret to quinoa, toasting it until fragrant. It makes all the difference in how it tastes, from bland and tasteless to fragrant, delicious. So… be very careful to do it slowly so the quinoa does not burn.

When you can smell the fragrance, put the boiling water in the pot, and immediately cover it so the water does not splatter all over the place making a mess or, worse yet, burn you.

Immediately lower the heat to simmer, add the olive oil and salt, and cook for about 20 minutes. Do not stir the quinoa, or it will make it mushy. Check after 20 minutes to make sure all the water has evaporated. Cook a few more minutes if there is still water on the pot.

When all the water is gone, turn the heat off and let it cool. Once cooled, then mix in the ingredients to make it a salad. Those are the best ingredients I found for quinoa:

  • cranberries
  • cashews
  • almonds, slivered 
  • cilantro
  • green onions
  • frozen corn
  • red onions, finally chopped 
  • shredded carrots
  • feta cheese
  • chick peas
Mix it all in, gently, with a bit of olive oil and salt… and serve with roasted... chicken, tofu, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, Brussel sprouts… sautéed kale or other dark leafy greens… or raw arugula, spinach…and eat. It will sustain you, without making you feel heavy.

Just energy.

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