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Quinoa Tastes Good So You Can Feel Great

Updated on July 7, 2014

From the Andes To Your Plate

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What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a grain grown in the Andes in South America. For millennia it has been cultivated and harvested by the same indigenous people and recently it has been hailed as one of the healthiest foods we can eat. It's high fiber and protein content make it a great choice for vegetarians, but the benefits don't stop there. It also boasts high levels of magnesium, iron, and vitamin B-6.

While its current popularity makes it somewhat cost prohibitive, remember a little goes a long way. Just one uncooked cup makes 3 cups cooked. So, at an average of $6 a pound, you could potentially make several delicious meals to serve your whole family.

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Basic Quinoa Preparation

  1. Rinse 1 cup of quinoa.
  2. Bring 2 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a boil.
  3. Add quinoa and return to boil.
  4. Cover, reduce heat.
  5. Let it simmer for 20 -25 minutes.

Note that you do not have to use broth or stock. Simple water will suffice to cook the quinoa, but the broth adds flavor. Also, olive oil is used to keep it from becoming too sticky. You can use butter as well. Olive oil is my preferred oil simply because of its health benefits.

How Do You Cook It?

Quinoa behaves much like rice in that steaming water is absorbed by the seed as it cooks. For this reason, you would cook quinoa in much the same way you would cook rice. A successful way to make it is to rinse it off first. Another tip is to use 2 1/2 cups of liquid to cook 1 cup of quinoa. If you use a vegetable or chicken broth instead of regular water you automatically add flavor during the cooking process.

Beyond those basics, there are many variations you can use to enhance the flavor of quinoa and make it more interesting. It can be served plain as a side dish, or dressed up to become the main attraction of the meal. Whatever you choose to do, rest assured that you are serving up nutrients disguised as tasty goodness.

Which Way Do You Like It?

What are the best ways you've had quinoa?

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A Breakfast Staple

One way to use quinoa is as a breakfast dish. It's right up there with steel cut oats, cream of wheat, and grits. Start your morning off right by cooking a cup in a steaming bath of 2 1/2 cups of water. Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and sprinkle in some cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Talk about yumminess!

Another way to get your engine running is to cook a cup of it in 2 cups of water and add a fruity compote toward the end of the 20 minute cook time. Serve with 2 slices of crispy turkey bacon with fat drained off.

Try this: take plain left over quinoa from last night's dinner and sprinkle it with a pinch of table sugar and mix in some fresh blueberries or chopped strawberries.

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Avoid After Lunch Lethargy

Heavy meals make you tired after lunch. You find yourself struggling through your afternoon after ingesting a big meal, or a meal from one of the many fast food shops you can choose from. This is due to the fact that the food you ate was high in fat and sugar.

Eliminate this sluggishness. Feel the energy that comes from the calories and nutrients and skip the slug by eating a food high in vitamin B-6 and protein. Quinoa is a perfect lunchtime meal. Although it has a significant fat content, it's all the good stuff. Make a few cups of it Sunday evening and then use it for lunch for the next couple of days. Here are some tasty meals you can make:

  1. Pack the quinoa in your reusable lunch bag with a tostada, some vegetarian refried beans, fresh diced tomatoes, and diced bell pepper. Assemble it and sprinkle some cheese on top. Heat it for 30 seconds and enjoy.
  2. Take some shredded chicken and northern beans and mix them together with the cooked quinoa. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy with a few cherries and some kale chips or lowfat tortilla chips.

Grainy Goodness Compared (Based on 2,000 calorie diet)

White Rice (per cup cooked)
Quinoa (per cup cooked)
Couscous (per cup cooked)
Brown Rice (per cup cooked)
204 calories (4 = fat)
222 calories (32 = fat, mostly the good kind)
176 calories (hardly any fat)
216 calories (14.7 = fat)
3% daily iron intake
16% daily iron intake
3% daily iron intake
4% daily iron intake
4.2 grams protein
8.1 grams protein
5.9 grams protein
5 grams protein
>1 gram fiber
5.2 grams fiber
2.2 grams fiber
3.5 grams fiber
.08 grams sugar
1.6 grams sugar
.2 grams sugar
.7 grams sugar
2% daily magnesium intake
29% daily magnesium intake
3% magnesium intake
21% magnesium
26 milligrams potassium
318 milligrams potassium
91 milligrams potassium
84 milligrams potassium
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Supreme Supper

Of course, dinner is quinoa's time to shine. There are so many opportunities to be creative and make it taste good.

There's a rule of thumb for dinner in our home. 1 meat, 1 starch / grain, 2 veggies / legumes. I always make enough veggies or legumes to have seconds. This basic plan means everyone is getting their share of the nutrients they need and they'll have a chance to load up on the good stuff if they're still hungry after the first serving. With that in mind, the following meal ideas include quinoa as the grain / starch while dressing it up or adding other food groups to round out the meal.

Stuffed peppers

  • Cut a large bell pepper lengthwise. Empty out the peppers inside and make it hollow. Lightly spread olive oil inside and out and broil for four minutes on each side. Set peppers aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add diced onions until they're transparent. Add one clove of minced garlic. Add ground turkey. Season the turkey with seasoned salt and poultry seasoning.
  • At the same time prepare one cup of quinoa using the basic directions from above.
  • Once the meat and quinoa are done cooking, put them in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of lowfat ricotta cheese. Mix together and fill the hollowed out peppers with the mixture. Sprinkle your choice of cheese on top, melt in the oven and serve.

*This meal includes veggies, but to add more cook some spinach or kale or both with the turkey and mix it in with the quinoa and ricotta.


Beans and Quinoa (a take on beans and rice)

  • Cook quinoa using a low sodium chicken broth.
  • Toward the end of the 20 minute cook time add a can of beans of your choice.
  • Add a small can of diced chiles and Cajun seasoning.
  • Serve with baked chicken thighs and a vegetable of your choice.

Black-eyed Peas On A Bed of Quinoa (long prep and cook time)

  • Rinse 2 cups of black -eyed peas and soak them overnight.
  • When you're ready to cook the peas heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion and bell pepper. Once they're transparent add sliced jalapeno peppers. Allow the flavors to combine. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add black - eyed peas.
  • Let the peas cook for up to 5 hours or until the peas are the consistency of texture you prefer.
  • Prepare the quinoa as you would if serving plain.
  • As you dress the plates, lay the quinoa in a circle and drop a spoonful of the peas on top in the center of the circle.
  • Serve with roasted chicken breast and Brussels sprouts.

As you can see, there are many ways to make quinoa a regular attendee at your dinner table. And you and your family will be better for it.



Quinoa...It's What's Up

Whether looking for an energy booster to start your day, a high protein meal to get through the day, or a delicious dinner that provides a great deal of nutrition while taking nothing away from flavor, quinoa is your go-to staple.

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    • SRPowell profile image
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      Shannon Powell 3 years ago from USA

      Hi Janellegems, it's funny during my research to start changing our diets I found out that whole grains, in moderation, are extremely helpful in boosting energy and may be healthier and more effective than our usual go-to's like caffeine and sugar. I was pretty amazed by that.

    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 3 years ago from United States

      This is great information to know about quinoa. I recently started using quinoa, did not know it boosts energy. Definitely have to try some of the ways you suggested. Great Hub. Voted up!!!