Today is officially the 1st day of spring! What better way to wrap up the Holistic Spring Cleaning Series than with a guest post about a super clean, nutritious grain that helps you lose weight? Bindu Grandhi, flexitarian cookbook author, blogs about quinoa and shares with us an easy, tasty recipe.
Grains are my-go-to staple food – they’re mild in flavor, inexpensive, and keep well. My pantry is stocked with brown basmati rice, whole-wheat pasta, couscous and my most favorite grain – quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).
While quinoa is considered a grain, it is actually the seed of a plant that is related to beets, chard and spinach. Honestly, I don’t care how it’s classified because if you’ve never tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing!
This ancient grain native to South America was considered “the gold of Incas” because they recognized this superfood’s value in increasing the stamina of its warriors. In fact, quinoa is quite the nutritional powerhouse:
- High in protein, it is one of the few non-meat foods that provide all eight of the essential amino acids that our bodies need to repair themselves.
- High in fiber, low in gluten and a great source of healthy carbohydrates.
- Great source of lysine which plays a critical role in tissue growth and repair.
- Loaded with vitamins and minerals (such as iron, magnesium and potassium); its magnesium, copper and phosphorous content means that quinoa is especially good for those that have migraine headaches, atherosclerosis and diabetes; its potassium content can help beat bloat.
Best of all, one cup of cooked quinoa has just 220 calories and keeps you satiated! So if you’re trying to eat healthy or shed a few pounds or fueling up for exercise, make quinoa a part of your meal plan.
Look for quinoa in your local supermarket or in natural foods stores. Some of the price clubs also carry quinoa; I got a 4 lb. container for $10! Make sure you store quinoa in an airtight container. It will keep for a longer period of time, approximately three to six months, if stored in the refrigerator.
Prepare quinoa by placing it in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse under cold water. Cook according to the package directions. By the way before I cook, I shallow-fry the quinoa in a skillet over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes – stirring constantly until the raw smell disappears.
It takes only about 15 minutes to cook, making it a great time saver for busy cooks. When cooked, it has an airy rice-like and slightly crunchy texture, and a somewhat nutty flavor. Quinoa is so versatile, the perfect accompaniment for vegetables, beans, or tofu.
If you have recipes that call for couscous or rice, just substitute quinoa instead. When I’m short on time, it makes for a great one-pot meal and I jazz it up with spices!
Here’s one of my favorite recipes:
Sautéed Vegetables and Quinoa
This nutrient-rich packed dish loads up on veggies, mixed with quinoa and just a hint of garam masala. Simply yummy – great for brunch, lunch, dinner or snack!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes
Makes 4 servings
- 1 cup quinoa, dry roasted
- 1 ½ tsp. extra light olive oil
- 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
- 1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 3 baby portabella mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1 jalapeno (optional), stemmed and diced
- ¼ tsp. garam masala
- 2 cups of water
- Salt to taste
Garnish: ¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
In a medium saucepan, heat oil and sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms and jalapeno for 6 minutes. Add the garam masala and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add 2 cups water, cover and bring to boil. Add quinoa. Cover and return to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro.
*Variation of this dish: Try other vegetables like eggplant or zucchini. Or add baby shrimp in place of the mushrooms.
About the Author
Author of Spice Up Your Life, Bindu Grandhi is passionate about healthy and flavourful cooking, especially when it’s flexitarian. She shares her health knowledge with the world by providing practical, healthy and tasty recipes as The Flex Cook.
Quinoa rocks my world! Here’s another quinoa recipe from the Live Lighter archives for you to try. How much do you love quinoa?