Quinoa: It’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner!

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is everywhere you look these days, and for good reason! It’s been so popular over the last few years that 2013 was deemed ‘The International Year of Quinoa.’ Understandably so! The nutrient profile is pretty impressive, and the health benefits are evident.

So what’s all the hype? Quinoa is an ancient grain that is said to have been cultivated over 5,000 years ago. It is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and is a complete protein. It is considered a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids- these are the ones that we have to consume from food, as our body does not make them. Quinoa is also said to have a low glycemic index, which means that it will not cause a large spike in blood sugar after you eat it. For anyone following a gluten free diet, quinoa is a great option!

You might be wondering the best way to prepare it. I typically eat it as a cold salad because it’s easy to pack for lunch, and it’s quick. That’s a win-win! I usually throw in beans, lentils, or hard-boiled eggs for protein, avocado or olive oil for some healthy fats, and load it with veggies. Make a large batch at the beginning of the week and you’ll have lunch for a few days! Here’s one of my go-to recipes.

Quinoa and Black Bean Vegetable Salad

Yields ~5 cups

For the salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked red or white quinoa
  • 1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or canned corn (optional)
  • 1 small avocado, chopped into 1 inch pieces (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 4-5 tbsp of fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook 1 cup quinoa according to package directions.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the chopped vegetables and whisk together the dressing.
  3. Allow quinoa to cool after cooking for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the beans and vegetables and toss well.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Recipe inspired by: Oh She Glows

Quinoa is pretty versatile and can also be eaten warm, and for all 3 meals. Breakfast too? I wondered the same thing. I saw a recipe for Banana Quinoa Breakfast Bars that I just had to try, and they turned out great. Happy baking!

 

 

 

 

Are you interested in learning more about ancient grains? Samantha Walters, one of our RDNs, will be talking about ancient grains and greens at our monthly event on May 23 at 7PM. You’ll have a chance to sample some delicious recipes, discuss the nutritional benefits, and learn how to prepare these items at home. Come join the fun!

 

 

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