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Quinoa, A Seed Worth Trying

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Have you tried quinoa? Quinoa — pronounced keen-wah — has a texture similar to rice or couscous. It has a very mild, nutty flavor and can take on more flavor by adding chicken broth and sautéed veggies.

Although quinoa is a seed, its nutritional quality is most similar to a grain. Quinoa has a good amount of protein per serving compared to some other grains such as oats or rice. Quinoa is a complete protein; a complete protein means that this grain contains all essential amino acids needed by the body to work properly.

The protein in quinoa can help a person with better control of blood sugar and decreased cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. Controlling appetite and calories is key for weight loss.

Quinoa is also free of gluten and is considered easy to digest. It can be substituted for any other grain.

Quinoa is the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach and beets. The quality of the protein in quinoa is equivalent to that found in milk. Quinoa is a good source of fiber and high in phosphorous, magnesium and iron. It is considered cooked when it changes from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated.

Quinoa seeds are naturally covered with bitter-tasting saponins that naturally repel insects and birds. Rinsing in water removes the saponins. The saponins will produce a soapy-looking “suds” when they are swished in water. Wash the quinoa in a fine sieve thoroughly (about 5 minutes) until water runs clear, or use a prewashed quinoa so no rinsing is needed.

Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf
Serves 6.

All you need:

  • 2 tbsp.olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 medium red or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

All you do:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, green onions and garlic; cook and stir just until soft.
  2. Add quinoa, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste; sauté 1 minute to toast quinoa. Add broth. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add pine nuts and parsley, and serve.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 170 calories, 10g fat, 210mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g protein.

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