Today’s Find: Quinoa

What really is quinoa?  Well for starters, it is pronounced KEEN-WAH.  Most of us think of quinoa as a grain or rice, 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.  It is excellent source of protein, and 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.  Also, for those with Celiac disease and gluten-intolerant, quinoa does not contain any wheat or gluten.
Not only is it a good choice for all types of eaters, quinoa taste delicious.  The seeds are fluffy and and light, yet have a bit of a crunch and a great nutty taste.  It can be a little bland if cooked with water, but cooking it with a flavored broth can really enhance the flavor.  You can add various spices and herbs, toss it in pastas and salads, and even use it in breads, muffins and other baked goods.

In addition to the protein aspect, quinoa has around 40-45% of your daily intake of Manganese, which relaxes blood vessels.  This can help with hypertension and cardiovascular problems, as well as aches and pains. So for all of you struggling with headaches or migraines after work, quinoa may help alleviate some of the pain.  One cup of quinoa contains 5g of fiber, about 20% of your recommended daily value.
Quinoa preparation:
-Wash the seeds to get rid of residue and bitterness
-Add part grain to two parts liquid and bring to a boil
-Once it is as a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until ready
-One cup will usually take about 15 minutes

I recently experimented with a Quinoa black bean and corn salad, which turned out to be a favorite at the potluck!

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

In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add quinoa and let it roast for about 5 minutes.  Cook quinoa accordingly with the vegetable broth, cumin and salt.  When it’s done, set it aside to cool.  In a separate bowl, toss 4 tablespoons of oil and black pepper with the beans, corn, onion, and red pepper. Let the quinoa and bean mixture chill in the fridge separately until ready to be served.  Right before dinner, I placed the quinoa in the platter, laid the  bean mixture on top, sprinkled the lettuce on top and topped it with avocado.  Too easy!

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