Food for Thought: Benefits of Quinoa


The nutritious superfood Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a relatively new food item in the United States – first cultivated here in the 1980s – but it has been a staple for more than 5,000 years for the Incas of the Andes mountains. There are several benefits to eating quinoa, aside from its delicious nutty flavor and crunchy texture:

It’s a complete protein: A complete protein is one that contains all nine amino acids, which humans need for a healthy lifestyle. It is rare to find a vegetarian source of a complete protein, because plants are typically incomplete sources of protein. Quinoa has about eight grams of protein per cup.

It’s a nutritional powerhouse: Aside from protein, quinoa has several other nutritional benefits – it is high in iron (15% daily value), manganese (58%), magnesium (30%), phosphorus (28%), riboflavin (12%) and fiber (5g/cup).

It’s gluten-free: Though quinoa is often prepared and used as a replacement for other grains, it is actually a seed, closely related to spinach and beets. It is completely gluten-free. Quinoa flour is also available for baking and cooking, and there are “pastas” made out of quinoa.

It’s low in fat: Quinoa has very little fat and no saturated fat, so it is a friend to healthy-eaters everywhere.

It’s a complex carbohydrate: Quinoa won’t spike your blood sugar like refined grains will.


Creamy Quinoa Primavera

Quinoa is my latest obsession – it’s a delicious grain-like seed with a slightly nutty flavor and satisfying, crunchy texture. It’s also ideal for vegetarians since quinoa is high in protein compared to other grains.

Quinoa can be used to make an assortment of salads and dishes, but tonight I was craving something creamy and hearty. This recipe cooks the quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water, which adds creaminess without adding many calories or any fat. The cream cheese and parmesan together make this a satisfying quinoa alternative to fettucine alfredo.

Buon appetito!

Creamy Quinoa Primavera
Makes 3-4 servings

1 cup pre-washed quinoa (if it’s not pre-washed, rinse it before use)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
3 caprese tomatoes (seeded)
half head of broccoli
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup shaved or grated parmesan cheese

1: Clean vegetables and chop into bite-size pieces.

2a: Combine quinoa and vegetable broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 12 minutes, or until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir periodically.

2b: While the quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in medium frying pan.

3: When oil is hot, add garlic, broccoli and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender (about 10 minutes). The vegetables will be a more vibrant color than when you first added them, and the garlic will be fragrant.

4: Add tomatoes to vegetable combo. Cook another 4 minutes.

5: When quinoa is done, add cream cheese and parmesan. Melt using a low flame and stirring constantly, until your quinoa looks like this:

6: Now, combine quinoa and vegetable mixtures.

7: Serve and enjoy!

**Adding some extra parmesan on top can only make it more delicious**

Veggin’ Out: Greek (Baked) Fries

Some days, you need a meal that is quick as much as you need one that is satisfying. Cue the Veggin’ Out series – made for lazy days.

Greek Fries

Make frozen fries “gourmet” by baking them as directed until almost crispy. Four minutes before you take them out, sprinkle feta cheese (about 1/2 cup) over the top of the fries. Finish baking. When done, squeeze the juice of half a lemon evenly over the fries – and you have “Greek” fries!

Serve with a Greek salad, or as a side to a veggie burger.