If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely heard of quinoa before and all it’s powerful health benefits, but aren’t really sure if you want to try it. I’m not adventurous when it comes to food, I never have been. So when I hear about all the latest “super foods”, I’m always a little skeptical. Sure, they have great health benefits, but what if they taste like dirt?
When I first heard about quinoa, I couldn’t even pronounce it, let alone know what it was or what to do with it. Back in the day, I would have loved a manual for dummies on how to cook all the healthiest of foods, and what was just so great about them.
Since I never found one, I figured I might as well create one for you and that is what I intend to do. Over the next few months, I’m going to be covering some “health-nut” foods that you may be skeptical about eating. I’m going to teach why they’re so good for us, how to cook them, and how to make them taste great.
First up: Quinoa
Quinoa is actually a seed and not a whole grain. When planning meals though, I typically consider it more of a grain and less of a seed, simply because it is higher in carbohydrates than it is in fats. Quinoa is naturally gluten free making it an awesome replacement for pasta-based dishes. You can even use quinoa flour for baking.
One of my favorite things about quinoa though is that it is the only vegetarian source of a complete protein. This means it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. It also has a low glycemic load, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar, plus it is high in fiber, meaning it will be slow to digest and will hold you over for a long time.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, quinoa contains both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It naturally contains a good source of folate and magnesium, two things crucial to a healthy diet.
Now for my favorite part…
What do you do with it?
Cook quinoa, as you would rice. Combine the quinoa and a liquid of your choice in a 2:1 (water to quinoa) ratio in a saucepan. For example, if you have ½ cup dry quinoa, you would combine it with 1 cup of water. Bring your liquid and quinoa to a boil in a saucepan. Once it begins to boil, cover and cook over medium heat, 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork and enjoy.
Quinoa is pretty bland in flavor so I like to cook mine in something with a little flavor. Some of my favorites are vegetable broth for a savory dish, and apple juice diluted with water for a sweet dish.
Quinoa is a great way to switch up your breakfast options and get a protein boost early in the day. One of my favorites is quinoa cooked in a little apple juice diluted with water and tossed with fresh sliced strawberries and a drizzle of peanut butter.
Add quinoa to your salads for added texture, flavor, and protein. This is a spinach salad with oranges, strawberries, sliced almonds, and quinoa.
Mix in beans and vegetables for a protein packed vegetarian or vegan meal. Here I have black beans, quinoa, tomato paste, bell peppers, chili powder, and paprika.
Or add in ground meat for a filling and savory meal. Here I have mixed ground turkey with quinoa, baby spinach, and diced tomatoes.