I eat and cook with quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) all the time since it is tasty and extremely healthy. This simple dish is one of my favorites. It works beautifully as a replacement to rice and can be incorporated as a side dish or used as a base for your favorite recipes. Kebabs with lemon and herb quinoa and a side salad or quinoa and bean (or steak) burritos are great examples.
Quinoa is a very nutritious whole-grain (well technically a seed) that might still be a little unfamiliar to most people. However, it has been around for some 5,000 years and long been prized for its nutritional value. The Incas and Aztecs both recognized quinoa’s benefits and utilized the grain for warriors in times of battle to increase stamina and sustain energy. Nowadays this rediscovered grain is sold in almost every grocery store and should be found next to the rice or in the bulk section at Whole Foods. Quinoa is not only a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids, but also provides more protein than any other grain. This high protein content is an added weight management bonus since it will fill you up and keep you full. Quinoa also contains good sources of iron, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, magnesium, and zinc.
Lemon & Herb Quinoa
makes 4 servings
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or your favorite herb – parsley, mint, basil,etc)
1/4 teaspoon each: sea salt and black pepper
Wash quinoa under water to remove any powdery residue (saponin) which can leave a bitter taste if not completely washed off. Add water and quinoa to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and quinoa forms little white-spiral “tails”. Season with lemon juice, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
Nutrition facts per serving: 158 calories, 2.5 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium, 28 g total carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein
BALANCE IT OUT: Use this dish as your grain in any meal. Here are some ideas:
Use it as a base for the chickpea, pepper, and mushroom quinoa.
Use it as a base for the homemade quinoa burger
Use it as a base for avocado and red pepper quinoa
Use it as a base for multi-color quinoa salad
Use it in place of the rice in the spicy bean soup with green chili and brown rice
Serve it topped with fennel, olive, & tomato stew