Quinoa is a grain that originated in the Andean region of South America. People began to consume it almost 4,000 years ago. The Incas referred to quinoa as the ‘mother of all grains’ and considered the crop to be sacred. It has been popular in diets of the people of that region ever since it’s domestication. Despite that fact, it is only just recently becoming a commonly consumed food in the United States.
In case you haven’t had the pleasure of eating a bowl of quinoa yet, it is a small round grain that is slightly translucent when cooked, with an opaque ring around the middle. It has only slightly more flavor than brown rice but is prepared in exactly the same way.
Quinoa has gained popularity due to its extremely high nutrient and protein content. Not only is the protein content much higher than most other grains, it has also been determined to be a “complete” protein source, meaning that it contains all of the 9 essential amino acids that humans should consume each day. Just one cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber, and 15% of the daily-recommended amount of iron. In addition, it’s rich in the B-vitamins, as well as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and calcium. It is lactose free and gluten free, which makes it easily digestible for most people.
Because of its simple preparation and mellow flavor, quinoa can be seamlessly incorporated into a wide variety of recipes. It can be added to soups, stews, or salads (both hot and cold) and can even be a main component of a sweet breakfast by adding blueberries and cinnamon. It can accommodate almost any combination of herbs and spices making it a food that is versatile and easy to work with. A quick Google search can lead you to recipes for curried quinoa, Spanish-style quinoa, Mediterranean quinoa, and many others. My personal favorite method of prepping this awesome grain is to make a quinoa bowl. Please follow the below recipe to try it out for yourself and see what you think!
1 cup quinoa
2 cloves garlic
1 onion (diced)
3 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, diced)
1 can of Black Beans (or pinto or garbanzo)
1 zucchini (diced)
Shredded Colby Jack cheese (topping to taste)
Cilantro (topping to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Finely chopped Jalapenos (optional)
1. Cook quinoa as instructed on package.
2. Sautee garlic, onion, and zucchini and jalapeno in pan. Combine with quinoa.
3. Heat beans and combine with quinoa.
4. Serve in bowl and add in peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, cheese, and salt and pepper.
5. Top with your favorite hot sauce. Mine’s Cholula!