I am participating in DMU’s Dump Your Plump challenge this spring, and have been trying to focus on eating healthier. I am not usually the chef of the house (my husband does all the cooking), but I recently tried out a recipe that called for quinoa. I had heard of it before, but have never cooked it nor eaten it. I was pleasantly surprised. I not only successfully cooked a meal (woowho!), but it actually tasted pretty good.
New to quinoa like me? Here are a few health benefits that make this such a great option:
- It’s easy to cook. Simply add water (or chicken broth) and bring to a boil. Make sure you rinse the quinoa first. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes and you’re done. It cooks faster than rice and you can simply drain the extra liquid like pasta if there is leftover.
- It’s EXTREMELY nutritious. Quinoa is filled with almost everything your body needs. It is packed with protein, twice the amount of normal grains. Plus, it contains all the essential amino acids, not the norm for a high protein food. You’ll also get 21% of you daily allowance of fiber from just one serving (1 cup). For vitamins it includes a high concentration of folate as well as vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. The 3 main minerals found in quinoa are manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.
- It’s low in fat and calories. Quinoa has just 222 calories and 4 grams of fat per cup cooked. It’s also low in sodium and has no cholesterol or sugar.
- It has a long shelf life. Cooked quinoa can be stored in the fridge for over a week and does not become dry like rice which makes it easy to grab for a fast meal. Some even say it tastes better re-heated. It also freezes well. Uncooked quinoa lasts near forever as long as it is kept away from bugs and moisture.
- It works in many common recipes. Many people use quinoa as a healthier substitute for rice or pastas which makes it very easy to fit into your daily meal plan. It will taste different in different recipes so you won’t get bored of it easily. It’s commonly used to make salads, risottos, soups and even desserts.
- It’s delicious! Quinoa has a very addictive nutty flavor. The texture is wonderful and it can be flavored with your favorite spices.
MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA BOWL // Serves 2 big eaters, maybe 3 medium eaters
1 Cup Quinoa, dry
4 to 6 oz. Block of Feta Cheese, cut in cubes
1 Cup Roasted Red Peppers, cut in slivers
1/4 Cup Capers, rinsed and drained
1 Cup Chickpeas, cooked
3 Tbsp. Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp. Dried Oregano
Generous pinch of Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Meyer Lemon
1 Tbsp. Good Quality Olive Oil
1. For the quinoa, typically, bring two cups water and one cup dry quinoa to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Place the broccolini right on top after ten minutes (who wants to dirty another pot?) and cover to finish the quinoa and the broccolini will steam on top. Remove the broccolini to a cutting board, and transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
2. Toss the red pepper slivers, chickpeas, capers, dried oregano and salt and pepper to the quinoa and stir. Give the broccolini a rough chop and toss it in the bowl. Squeeze the juice of the entire meyer lemon (avoiding seeds) and the olive oil, stir again.
3. Lastly, cut the feta into small cubes (easiest if done straight from the fridge or even let it sit in the freezer for a few minutes). Add the cubes and the parsley to the quinoa and give it a gentle fold. At this point, it is probably a tad warmer than room temperature, which is great. If you’d rather it cold, let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool down.