Simple superfood

by in Food & Nutrition, Kids Health February 2, 2012

Are you looking for something new and healthy to add to your family meals?

Quinoa – we have all most likely heard of it, but a good number of us do not know what it tastes like, have never tried it and certainly don’t have it in our kitchens.  BUT – you should and here is why!!

Quinoa is considered a whole grain by many, but is actually the seed from a plant similar to spinach.  This natural, non-processed food provides all nine essential amino acids including lysine which is essential for tissue growth and repair; making it a complete protein.  Single-handedly, quinoa is a great option for vegetarians due to it’s complete protein properties! When cooked it has a creamy, yet somewhat crunchy consistency and a mild nutty flavor.

Without going into too much science (which interests me, but probably not you) essential amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and must be provided by the diet. Translation – you must eat them!  Protein is part of EVERY cell on our bodies and no new tissue can be built without it.  Proteins are not only a measurement of energy that provide 4 calories per gram by means of our food intake; but also make our hair and nails grow; regulate enzymes, hormones and antibodies; and assist in fluid balance within our bodies.

Supplying high amounts of insoluble fiber, working to balance blood sugar, providing abundant phytonutrients and antioxidants, and working to lower cholesterol are all goals that this “grain” brings to the table. Additionally, this miniature seed is an extremely good source of manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus; making it especially valuable for individuals with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Ok – I hear ya, enough science.

Here is the deal…. if you make rice with dinner – try quinoa. If you eat grits for breakfast – try quinoa. Pasta for lunch – try quinoa.  Just try adding this super nutritious and versatile food to your diet. You can find it in most grocery stores near the rice and in the bulk section at many health food stores (Earth Fare J).

Here are a few simple recipes to try with your family:

Breakfast Quinoa –

  • 1 cup or so cooked quinoa
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp raisins (or dried cranberries, currants, blueberries, chopped figs or dates)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup almond, hemp or soy milk, flavored or plain – add more as needed

Quinoa Salad –

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup snow peas, shell peas, celery, or green beans
  • 1 – 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 medium ripe tomato
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted sunflower seeds or toasted cashews
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup reduced fat feta
  • For dressing – the best option is an olive oil, lemon juice blend or Good Seasonings

Quinoa Burgers –

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cup mashed chick peas + 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp low sodium or GF soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp panko bread crumbs
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a bowl or food processor.  Chill in the fridge for an hour for firmer mixture.  Form into patties. Best cooked in canola oil covering the bottom of a cast iron pan.