Quinoa packs a nutritional punch. Packed with protein, iron and fiber, it's a great alternative to pasta and rice and can easily hold its own as an entree. We'll show you how in a moment.
"Quinoa is suitable for a gluten-free diet and contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein," explains Claire Bedel, clinical dietitian at Franciscan Health Lafayette East. "This and its high protein content of 8 grams per cup make quinoa an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, which is rare for a single plant food."
You can find quinoa in the grocery aisle near rices and other grains. Quinoa comes in red, black and white varieties, though I've not noticed significant differences in taste among them.
"Quinoa is very simple to prepare," Bedel said. "Add one part quinoa to two parts water to a pot, bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and let sit for 20 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy. Add some olive oil or another healthy fat to give it some flavor and help you absorb the many nutrients."
Before you cook, though, first rinse the quinoa under cold running water to help remove its outer shell. Doing this step is critical. I'd failed to rinse my quinoa once, and the effect was disasterous: very crunchy and an odd taste that Bedel described as bitter and soapy.Our registered dietitians recently shared these two terrific quinoa salad recipes during our recent HeART for Health event in Indianapolis. These meatless meals are quick to prepare, and make a simple lunch to throw in a container for the office.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can (15 oz.) no-salt added petite diced tomatoes
- 3 green onions
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons chopped green chilis
- Bring to a boil water and add quinoa. Reduce heat, simmer and cook until water is absorbed.
- Drain and rinse black beans, petite dice tomatoes and green onions. Add to the quinoa.
- Mix together the dressing of lime juice, coriander, cumin and chopped green chilis.
- Add dressing to the quinoa and bean mixture.
- Serve warm or cold.
Quinoa Black Bean Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh or canned green chilies
- 1 can black beans (low sodium, rinsed, drained)
- 2 cups diced tomatoes (or 15 oz. can, drained, diced)
- 4 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoon minced scallions
- Add quinoa to boiling water. Cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Set aside.
- Mix together black beans, bell peppers, green chilies and tomatoes.
- Mix the quinoa, black beans and other vegetables together.
- Add the dressing and mix well.
- Serve hot or cold.
By Robbie Schneider
Social Media Manager