Quinoa is an amazing grain. Well, technically it’s a fruit, and a relative of spinach and swiss chard, but we consider it a grain. Native to the Andes mountains, Chenopodium quinoa, Wild, has been eaten for over 5,000 years by people who live in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. The word “quinoa” means “mother grain” in the Inca language and was believed that eating quinoa would give long life.
Quinoa is an incredibly nutritious food. The protein quality and quantity is superior to more common grains, such as wheat, barely, rye, and oats, as it contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is lower in sodium and higher in calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, manganese, and zinc than wheat barley and corn. For those of you who are concerned about the glycemic index of the foods you eat, quinoa is considered a low glycemic index (35) and a low glycemic load (18) food.
1/4 cup (uncooked) = 160 calories, 2.8 g fat, 31 g carbs, 6 g protein, 3 g fiber.
Because of its high mineral and fiber content, eating quinoa has been associated with improvements in a number of health conditions.
- Migraines: Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels; a high magnesium intake is related to decreased frequency of headache episodes in migraine sufferers. Also, riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps to reduce the frequency of attacks by improving energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells.
- Cardiovascular health: magnesium and fiber help to decrease blood pressure and heart attacks. In post-menopausal women, consumption of at least 6 servings of whole grains a week decreases atherosclerosis.
- Antioxidants: Quinoa contains manganese and copper, two co-factors for superoxide dismutase enzyme (SOD), an antioxidant that helps protect mitochondria from oxidative damage created during energy production.
- Breast Cancer: Quinoa is a source of lignans, which are phytoestrogens. Diets rich in lignans are related to a decreased risk of breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women.
Check out our Quinoa Jambalaya recipe below! It’s great for a busy night because quinoa cooks fast- only takes 12-15 minutes to be fully cooked!
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 chicken sausages, each sliced into 6 rounds (any flavor will do, but we like
- chicken-apple or chicken-jalapeno for an added kick)
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 green onion, sliced thinly
- Optional: red pepper flakes
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tbs. canola oil.
- When hot add the onion, bell pepper, carrots, garlic, and sausage slices; sauté 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and toss to coat; cook 2 minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes, a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. If you like heat, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to LOW and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Remove from heat and onto plates. Top with sliced green onion.