Like kale and avocados before it, quinoa has joined the ranks of the elite “superfoods” group. What is a superfood, you ask? Well, obviously, it’s a food that, once consumed, supplies you with an impenetrable immune system and the strength of 1,000 stallions.
Okay, not really. The term superfood just means the food contains a slew of health benefits, which is pretty boring and why we opted to create our own definition. That said, quinoa lives up to the hype.
“Quinoa is loaded with protein and fiber, and it doesn’t contain gluten,” says registered dietitian Jackie Beltramo. “It’s also a complete protein; most plant-based foods — quinoa is a seed — don’t contain aminos.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, imports of quinoa boomed to nearly 70 million pounds in 2013, a huge increase from 7.66 million pounds in 2007. And it’s because of this surge that you can now find more creative uses for quinoa, such as quinoa hot cereal, quinoa linguine, and quinoa mac and cheese.
“One cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 39 grams of carbohydrates,” Beltramo adds. “So it’s still high in carbs … which makes it a great option to consume before a workout. But something else to keep in mind about carbs is that they fuel the brain. Without eating carbs you’ll get brain fog — where you feel kind of dumb, like you’re in a haze.”
Above all, Beltramo says, it comes down to portion control. “Don’t go crazy with portion sizes, and use the quinoa as a power source,” she suggests. “For example, instead of eating oatmeal, some people are having hot quinoa cereal with fruit.”
Here are two more simple ways to prepare quinoa …
Chicken & Quinoa Burritos
Ingredients — Serves 4
4 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
½ cup of pinto beans
1 cup quinoa
1 sliced avocado
1 cup of salsa (add it to the mix or use it as a dip)
(½ t to 1 cup of shredded cheese is optional, as is ½ cup of
1. Place the shredded chicken on top of the tortillas.
2. Add the other ingredients to the tortilla.
3. Roll it all up into a burrito.
Quinoa with Toasted Pine Nuts
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tbsp chopped shallots
1 tbsp diced garlic
1 1/4 cups chicken stock (unsalted)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1. Prepare quinoa over medium-high heat in a large saucepan.
2. Add grape seed oil to the pan (it’s an additional amount from the 1 tbsp you’ll add into the ingredients).
3. At one-minute intervals, add shallots and garlic.
4. Add quinoa and cook for two minutes; stir often.
5. Add chicken stock and salt, and bring to a boil.
6. Cover and allow everything to cook until the liquid is absorbed.
7. While you wait for the quinoa, in a separate pan, add pine nuts over medium heat. Cook until browned (between 2-3 minutes) and stir often.
8. Combine the pine nuts with the quinoa, and then add a tbsp of grape seed oil, chives, pepper, and parsley.