Quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) is a new favorite of the culinary world and it’s easy to prepare, versatile and has many health benefits.
“Quinoa is an excellent source of protein and amino acids, high in fiber and rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and potassium,” said Marshfield Clinic Minocqua Center Nutritionist Jaimee Gregor.
This grain is actually a seed, related to Swiss chard and spinach. Eating it can help you improve heart health, lower cholesterol, decrease susceptibility to gallstones and reduce risks associated with type 2 diabetes, among other health benefits.
A gluten-free grain
Quinoa is gluten free, which means people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can eat it, Gregor said.
Aside from its health benefits, quinoa is easy to prepare; it’s a “just-add-water” ingredient, Gregor said.
Before cooking, use a fine mesh strainer to rinse the quinoa and remove the outer coating, which can give the quinoa a bitter taste. Bring one part quinoa and two parts water to boil, remove it from heat to rest for 20 minutes.
Because it’s growing in popularity, quinoa is easily accessible in grocery stores, Gregor said. She suggests trying it in a salad type of recipe first.
“It has a light, nutty flavor. The texture is sort of a cross between couscous and barley,” Gregor said. It can also be eaten warm as a hot cereal.
Gregor fell in love with this recipe for Quinoa and Black Bean Salad after trying it at a cancer support group meeting. “I even made it for Thanksgiving!” she said.
Try this recipe
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 cup quinoa, washed and drained
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 fresh limes, juice of
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 5 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash and rinse quinoa. In a saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, cumin and red pepper flakes.
Combine cooled quinoa, beans, tomatoes and onions in a large bowl.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss in cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
Each serving contains about 268 calories; 11.2 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat); 34.2 g carbohydrate; 9.2 g protein; 7.4 g dietary fiber; 9.6 mg sodium.
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