Nutrition and Fitness with Randa

Quinoa, the Forgotten Superfood

Before we begin, let's get this great pseudo-grain's pronunciation down! Quinoa is pronounced kinwa. Say that 5 times and you will never stumble over how to say it again!

Commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas" and of great nutritional importance.

Today, quinoa has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

We use quinoa often in meals, and so does my friend, Mari, who contributed the great recipe below. (Thanks, Mari!) Red quinoa lends a beautiful color to any dish, if you want some variety.

If YOU have a favorite quinoa recipe, or concoct one as a result of this post, please leave a comment below so that others can benefit from your recipe!

Herbed Quinoa
(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe)

Quinoa (regular or red quinoa):
2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the quinoa: in a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the quinoa until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Great with chicken, fish or veggies. (I like the leftovers with cut up chicken, slivered almonds and dried cranberries!)

Or, for breakfast, quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food, mixed with honey, almonds and berries.

I hope you enjoy this under-utilized, high protein food as much as I do! (And don't forget to post your quinoa recipe for all of us to enjoy.)

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  1. Costco has Bob’s Red Mill organic quinoa in monster-sized bags (at least our Costco does)!! Can’t get enough!!

  2. Good to know, Michael! Your dinner tonight sounds delicious – “quinoa mixed with Trader Joes lentils, TJ’s bruschetta, and lettuce from the backyard garden” – yum!

  3. Hi Randa. My favorite quinoa recipe: I use chicken stock as well for flavor. I also like to add diced grilled vegtables (mushies, peppers or zuch), some roasted pinons with sauteed spinach. I usually serve it as a side for meat dishes, but recently got creative and added ground beef to this mix and used it as stuffing in large green leaves – like a wrap. I am limited on my gluten free diet, but this feels like I am eating a burrito!

  4. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Cat! This sounds fantastic! Lettuce or grape leave wraps are wonderful for a gluten-free diet.

  5. Okay so here is my recipe for white bean quinoa burgers:
    1 15 oz can white beans (I used TJ’s cannellini rinsed and drained)
    1/4 cup dry quinoa rinsed and cooked according to package
    1/3-1/2 cup cooked spinach/other veggies (I used leftover sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon juice, but you could use sauteed onions/shallots, whatever you like/have)

    1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used mostly basil and some chives and parsley)
    1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (very fine or in food processor)
    1/4 cup shredded parmesan/romano blend
    1 slice multigrain bread (i used TJ’s high fiber) pulsed into bread crumbs (or panko)
    1 egg white (or whole egg) beaten

    Mash the beans with a wooden spoon leaving some partial beans in tact but mostly all mashed. Add the rest of the ingredients except the egg and combine well (I used my hands to get everything mixed well. Add the egg and mix just until completely combined (don’t over mix). Then form into 4 nice size patties (or smaller if you want sliders or smaller burgers). Chill in the fridge for a while to help them hold together while cooking (Mine were in there for a few hours because I prepped in the morning). When your ready to eat, generously coat a non stick skillet with olive oil spray or lightly coat with a tablespoon of oil and heat for a minute or so, then place the patties in the pan. Cook over medium/high heat for 4-6 minutes on each side. (i covered them to keep the patties moist, but I’m sure it’s fine either way).

    You can make changes to ingredients based on what you have on hand and sub different beans and flavors to your taste!

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