Quinoa – The Super Grain

How to eat it & why to love it

Quinoa - The Super Grain
What’s not to love about quinoa? Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wa,” (not “key-no-a”) is a grain that comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain (an average of 16.2%), compared to rice (which consists of only 7.5%). Some varieties of quinoa even have more than 20% protein. Not to mention, quinoa is also a gluten free food, so it is a great choice for those with a gluten intolerance or with celiac disease.

Quinoa’s protein is of an unusually high quality. It has an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein – yes! Quinoa’s protein is also high in lysine, methionine and cystine. Besides being a complete protein, quinoa is also high in fiber, as well as other vitamins and minerals. Quinoa also contains 12% of the daily recommendation for iron. It is easy to see why this grain is considered a superfood!

Aside all of its power-packed nutritional qualities, quinoa is easy to digest, making it a really popular food for those who have digestive issues. What I personally love about quinoa is its versatility. It has a unique nutty flavor that goes so well in so many recipes. Whether it is incorporated into a breakfast food or dinner entree, quinoa makes a great, easy to prepare grain. It also can be eaten hot or cold, bland or sweetened!

Quinoa has a low glycemic index of only 35, so it does not spike your blood sugar and can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable. This keeps you satiated and helps to prevent extreme hunger and cravings, so it is a perfect food for those experiencing blood sugar issues. Another powerful benefit of quinoa is that it is an alkaline food. It is beneficial to keep our systems in a state of alkalinity to combat several health issues that thrive in acidic environments, and alkalizing foods like quinoa help keep your system in balance.

If you want a change from your same old brown rice or oatmeal, give this amazing superfood a try! Try out some of my favorite Quinoa recipes:

Quinoa Breakfast Cereal

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 c apples, thinly sliced
1/3 cup goji berries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 scoops vanilla protein
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (optional)
Stevia, to taste (optional)

Makes 2 servings.

Directions:

Rinse quinoa and add to water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add apples, goji berries and cinnamon and simmer until water is absorbed. Serve with unsweetened coconut milk or add protein powder.

Optional:
Sweeten with Stevia.

Turkey Quinoa Loaf

Ingredients:
1 lb (16 oz) 99% lean ground turkey
3 egg whites
3 tbsp hot sauce of your choice
3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the quinoa and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for about ten minutes. Put the ground turkey and all other ingredients except the quinoa into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Place the quinoa in the bowl and mix it in. Place the mixture in an appropriately sized baking dish. Sprinkle some parsley flakes over the top.

It’s difficult to say exactly how long to bake your meatloaf since it depends on the dish you’re using, your oven, etc. I bake the meatloaf, covered, for 1½ hours and then check to see if it’s done. The key is to not overcook it! Check after an hour, every so often to see when cooked.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 cups cooked black beans (if using canned beans, drain and rinse well)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced, OR 1 tsp garlic powder
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 large ripe tomato, diced
1 green pepper, sliced thin
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder

Dressing:
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch cayenne or chili powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped scallions

Directions:

*The quinoa can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
Soak the quinoa 1/2 hour in cold water. Rinse very thoroughly in water several times. For each rinse, pour off most of the water and finish draining through a large fine mesh strainer.
Place quinoa in a pot with 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring it to a boil, turn down to low, cover tightly, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes covered.
Fluff gently with a fork and set aside to cool. Sauté jalapeño and fresh garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil, until garlic is browned, pepper and celery are softened. Add the green and red peppers and sauté. Add the cumin and coriander; cook and stir 5 minutes. Blend dressing ingredients and gently combine sautéed veggies, tomatoes, black beans, quinoa and dressing in a large bowl.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cilantro and scallions, and serve warm, or chill and serve cold.

Cranberry Nut Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup green beans
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Combine quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking until all water is absorbed.
In a medium bowl, combine cooked quinoa, dried cranberries, green beans, walnuts, and green onions until well mixed. In a small bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic until well blended. Pour over the quinoa mixture. Toss until well blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Gina Aliotti

Gina is a Professional Figure Competitor, certified personal trainer, certified yoga instructor, CrossFit instructor, nutritionist, and fitness consultant. Her passion is to inspire, motivate and teach people the tools to reach their lifelong fitness goals, in a realistic and fun way.

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