Quinoa: Nutrition & Health Benefits

quinoa overview
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) has been around for over 5000 years. However, recently, it is making headlines in the news as an excellent food option. Here’s some quick facts about what quinoa is and how to use it:
· Quinoa is a plant protein source
Quinoa is considered a complete protein, meaning it provides all 9 essential amino acids which can’t be made by the body and therefore you must eat. Most plant proteins are not a complete protein source. Since it is a complete protein source, it is a great low fat, low cholesterol protein options for vegans and vegetarians.
· Quinoa is high in fiber!
1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 grams of Fiber.

Quinoa nutrition

· Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate
Quinoa is classified as a whole grain or complex carbohydrate. There are two types of grains: Complex and refined. Complex carbohydrates typical include wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, barely and more. They digest slowly, keeping you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. This also provides for great endurance to athletes. Refined grains include white bread, white rice, processed crackers digest slowly, creating rapid surges in blood sugar.
· Quinoa is quick and easy to make
Quinoa is a great option for a last minute meal or weeknight dinner, as it can be prepared in as little time as 15 minutes. Be sure to rinse Quinoa before cooking—it contains a naturally bitter coating called saponin (Must package quinoa has already been rinse, however some has not—always check the instructions!) Once rinsed, heat 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water to boiling. Once the mixture boils, simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
· Quinoa is high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants 
In addition to having fiber and protein, quinoa also contains multiple vitamins and minerals: manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, copper, iron, thiamin, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin b-5, potassium, selenium and vitamin E. Quinoa also contains antioxidants
· Quinoa is very versatile! 
Plain quinoa has a very basic flavor, meaning it can be combined with many things to make for a great dish. Here’s some ideas to spice up your quinoa:
  • Add into your soups or chili for extra substance
  • Start with a healthy breakfast: Prepare 1 cup of quinoa (or use leftover quinoa), topped with yogurt and berries
  • Make it a sweet treat: add 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp brown sugar and 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts to 1 cup of quinoa
  • Add more flavor to your quinoa by substituting a low fat chicken broth for water when cooking
  • Create a Chipotle style bowl: layer quinoa, meat, veggies and salsa in a bowl. Enjoy!
  • Combine quinoa with a pinch of feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder for a flavorful side dish
  • Substitute your white rice for quinoa the next time you make stir-fry
  • Sprinkle over salads for an added nutritional bonus
Tex-Mex Quinoa Bake
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1, 15 oz can black beans, no added salt, drained
  • 1, 15 oz can corn, no added salt, drained
  • 1, 10 oz can Rotel
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup chicken, diced
  • 1 cup cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook quinoa as according to directions on box.
  3. In medium bowl, combine quinoa, taco seasoning, cumin, garlic powder. Mix well.
  4. Add the black beans, corn, rotel, diced pepper, onion and chicken. Combine until mix.
  5. Spread mixture evenly into a greased 9×9 inch pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes. Add cheese to top, bake an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Serve warm! Garnish with avocado slices, salsa or desired toppings!

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