What really is quinoa? Well for starters, it is pronounced KEEN-WAH. Most people think quinoa is a grain but it is really the seed of the plant, Chenopodium Quinoa and is a highly nutritious food. It is native to South America and was a staple crop to the Inca people.
Why should you eat quinoa?
Short version: Rich in protein, fiber and manganese. Gluten-free. No cholesterol, sugar and low-fat.
1) PROTEIN: Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all nine essential amino acids. Besides meat products, it is difficult to obtain all nine essential amino acids from a single food source. For example, beans must be eaten with a grain in order to get all nine amino acids. This makes quinoa an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans. 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 8g protein.
(2) GLUTEN-FREE: For those who are gluten-intolerant, quinoa is your gem. If you are allergic, make sure it was not in contact with wheat in the process. By nature, quinoa is gluten-free but check just to be safe.
(3) MANGANESE: Quinoa has 40-45% of your daily intake of Manganese, which relaxes blood vessels. This can help with hypertension, cardiovascular problems, aches and pains.
(4) FIBER: My favorite! 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 5g of fiber, about 20% of your recommended daily value. Fiber latches onto cholesterol and takes it out of your system through pooping. Yes, I just wrote ‘pooping’ for the entire cyber-world to see. For the record, pooping is a scientific term. Nobody cares about bowel movements, just tell me how regular/irregular you poop. Then I can tell you a lot about your health.
Convinved yet? (Sorry if I grossed you out with the poop, haha) Quinoa is fluffy and and light and have a great nutty, dense texture. It will be bland if you cook it with only water, but try cooking it with 1/2 water, 1/2 vegetable or chicken broth. It can really enhance the flavor.
How to prepare Quinoa
- Wash the seeds to get rid of residue and bitterness, drain with a sieve
- Add 1 part grain to 2 parts liquid, and bring to a boil
- Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until ready (about 15 minutes)
- Fluff with fork to stir
I highly recommend experimenting with various spices and herbs and toss it in pastas and salads. You can even use it in breads, muffins and other baked goods, making them gluten-free!
This Quinoa black bean and corn salad was one of my first posts on The Fresh Find, and it holds dear to my heart. I made it for holiday party with my co-workers and it was a hit!
Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad
- 1 c. quinoa
- 2 c. vegetable broth
- 5 T olive oil
- 2 c. black beans
- 2 c. corn
- 1/2 chopped onion
- 1 chopped red pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 c. lettuce
- 1 avocado
- additional: cilantro, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese
- Cook quinoa accordingly with the vegetable broth, cumin and salt.
- In a separate bowl, toss 2 tablespoons of oil and black pepper with the beans, corn, onion, and red pepper.
- In an 8×8 pan, cover the base with quinoa and cover with bean/pepper mix.
- Top with lettuce, avocado, cilantro or whatever else your heart desires!
Here are some of my other favorite quinoa recipes!
Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers (I just made them again this week, keep posted for a new recipe!)
Coming tomorrow… Baked Quinoa with Roasted Kale and Chickpeas!