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    Archive for the ‘quinoa’ Category

    Q&A Roundup #4

    Time to answer some questions I’ve received via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail over the past few weeks.

    Enjoy — and keep the queries coming!

    Continue Reading »


    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Quinoa Vegetable Ginger-Curry Burgers

    quinoa11And so we come to the last vegan burger recipe.

    This is by far the most time-intensive, as it requires you to use cooked quinoa, and then refrigerate the burgers for a few hours before cooking them. Actual prep time, though, is not long at all.

    Of course, you could very well plan ahead slightly and, next time you cook quinoa at home, make an extra batch to have handy for this recipe.

    YIELDS: 4 patties

    1 cup quinoa, cooked (about 1/2 cup uncooked)
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
    1/2 cup shredded carrots
    1/2 cup red peppers, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 cup baby spinach leaves, loosely packed
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    Pepper, to taste
    1/2 tsp curry powder
    1/8 tsp ground ginger
    3 Tablespoons scallions, chopped
    1 teaspoon tamari
    3/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs


    In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the baby portabella mushrooms and shredded carrots. Cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add the red peppers and cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the spinach leaves and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Allow vegetables to cool for five minutes.

    In a food processor, process the cooked vegetables and spices for 20 to 30 seconds.

    Empty the contents of the food processor into a large bowl. Add the quinoa, tamari, scallions and breadcrumbs; mix together with your hands until you achieve a dough-like solid mass.

    Refrigerate the “burger dough” for two hours.

    After the two hours have passed, take out burger dough from refrigerator.  Form “burger dough” into four individual patties and cook to your liking (either pan-fry for a few minutes on each side or bake on a lighty oiled baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 7  minutes on each side).


    248 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    250 milligrams sodium
    3.5 grams fiber
    5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Folate, niacin, thiamin, monounsaturated fatty acids

    Good source of: Magnesium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C


    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Spiced Lentil & Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Dressing

    lentejas_-lensculirnarisI consider this a perfect year-round dish.

    In the cold winter months, the warm lentils and quinoa, along with the spices, make for a comforting dish.

    Once summer hits, I love this as a cold salad!

    This is also one of those meals that keeps you full for a very long time, as it combines heart-healthy fats, soluble fiber, and protein.

    Don’t be let the long steps fool you; this is a very simple recipe.  The lentils and dressing can both be prepared while the quinoa cooks.

    By the way, if you don’t have a food processor (or don’t feel like taking it out, using it, and cleaning it), you can always replace the dressing with some fresh avocado slices.  Even if you don’t have avocados handy, the lentil and quinoa combination in itself is delicious!

    YIELDS: 4 servings (1 cup quinoa + 1 cup lentils + 2 TBSP dressing)

    INGREDIENTS (Quinoa):

    2 cups quinoa
    4 cups water
    Pinch of salt

    INGREDIENTS (Spiced Lentils):

    2 TBSP olive oil
    1 cup onions, chopped
    1/2 cup carrots, shredded
    1/2 cup red pepper, diced
    1/4 cup green pepper, diced
    1 cup mushrooms, chopped
    2 T garlic, minced
    1/2 t cumin
    1/4 t cinnamon
    1/2 t curry powder
    1/3 t salt
    1/4 t paprika
    1/8 t black pepper
    1 cup dried lentils, rinsed (any color; if you can find sprouted dried lentils, even better!)
    3 cups water
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice

    INGREDIENTS (Avocado Dressing):

    1 large avocado, pitted
    2 t lime juice
    1 garlic clove
    2 t ginger
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 c water

    INSTRUCTIONS (Quinoa):

    In a small pot, combine quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt.

    Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer until all water evaporates.

    Fluff quinoa with fork.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Spiced Lentils):

    In a large pot, heat olive oil.  Once sufficiently hot, add onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic.

    Stir frequently over the course of 2 minutes over medium-high heat.

    Add spices.  Stir frequently for 2 more minutes.

    Add lentils and water, stir and bring to a boil.

    Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring two or three times.

    Turn off stovetop, uncover, add lemon juice, and stir one more time.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Avocado dressing):

    Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until evenly combined.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    538 calories
    2.5 grams saturated fat
    450 milligrams sodium
    15 grams fiber
    18 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Folate, manganese, monounsaturated fats, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc


    Two Healthy and Tasty Pantry Must-Haves!

    748404287930Considering the nutritional horrors that are often consumed due to time constraints, I am always eager to share products I personally come across — and try out for myself — that make it possible to whip up tasty and healthy food in minutes.

    First up– Seeds of Change’s microwaveable rice pouches.

    Four of the six varieties are 100% whole grain:

    It gets better.  All varieties are already seasoned with organic spices and a variety of organic vegetables (not vegetable powders — REAL vegetables!).

    While many boxed and seasoned grain products contain ridiculous amounts of sodium (as much as 600 or 700 milligrams per serving), Seeds of Change gets brownie points for offering, at most, 380 milligrams per serving (the average sodium content of these four products is an outstanding 268 milligrams per serving).

    Each of these pouches also offers, on average, 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.

    Next up — Tasty Bite’s Simmer Sauces.

    Need to quickly and effortlessly dress up beef, chicken, seafood, tofu, tempeh, seitan, or some stir-fried vegetables?  Look no further.

    These sauces use real food — as opposed to flavored chemicals — and a variety of spices to liven up your dish of choice.

    Consequently, each serving contains no more than a practically non-existent 45 milligrams of sodium (Two-thumbs-up-FYI: a serving is half the pouch, not a quarter of a teaspoon!).

    Even varieties like the pad-thai simmer sauce, which packs in several teaspoons of sugar, are fine if you are using half a pouch for a meal that serves three or four people.

    Go ahead and add these to your “I want something healthy and delicious… and I want it NOW” shelf.


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Quinoa Pilaf

    dsc024473Although quinoa is becoming more widely available, many people have never heard of this wonderful Incan supergrain.

    Additionally, most of those who are aware of its existence perceive it as a culinary challenge, citing unfamiliarity with cooking techniques as a barrier to including it in their meals.

    Alas, if you know how to boil water — and chop some vegetables — you can add fiber and protein-rich quinoa to your next dinner.

    This side dish recipe — a perfect accompaniment to a grilled or lightly pan-seared protein of choice — gets an A for taste and an A+ for (lack of) effort!

    If you’re looking to add some color to your plate, I recommend using red quinoa!

    YIELDS: 4 servings


    • 1 cup dry quinoa
    • 2 cups water
    • Small sprinkle of salt
    • 1/4 cup minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup diced onions
    • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
    • 3/4 cup sliced red peppers
    • 1/2 cup sliced green peppers
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
    • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
    • 1/2 cup raw cashews (optional)
    • Spices of choice, to taste (recommended: cinnamon OR cumin OR powdered ginger)


    In a medium-sized pot, combine quinoa, water, salt, garlic, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and carrots.

    With the pot uncovered, bring mix to a rolling boil.

    Once rolling boil is reached, lower heat to medium and cover pot.

    Once water has evaporated, turn off stovetop and remove pot from heat.

    Add lemon juice, sesame oil, and spices.  Stir thoroughly.

    Serve.  Once on plate, add cashews.

    NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per serving, with optional cashews):

    320 calories
    1.8 grams saturated fat
    180 milligrams sodium
    6 grams fiber
    9.5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C,

    Good Source of: Fiber, Magnesium, Manganese

    PS: If you didn’t already know, I ONLY post recipes that I myself cook and enjoy savoring.

    The accompanying photo shows this very quinoa pilaf (bottom right, made with red quinoa) as part of my dinner last night.  The purple you see is some leftover red cabbage I decided to throw in.


    You Ask, I Answer: Pre-rinsed Quinoa

    What do you think about pre-washed quinoa?

    Okay or not okay to eat?

    I read something about the rinsing process taking away some of the health benefits.

    — Dennise O’Grady
    Bay Head, NJ

    Before I get to the answer, let’s explain why quinoa needs to be rinsed prior to cooking.

    Turns out this delicious supergrain’s external layers are naturally coated with a chemical compound known as saponin.

    Saponin serves as a protective barrier against birds, reptiles, and even UV light. It also, however, imparts a very bitter taste.

    Rinsing quinoa prior to cooking it guarantees the removal of this bitter flavor.

    Since each quinoa grain is so tiny, though, rinsing can be very cumbersome if not done in an appropriately-sized strainer.

    Alas, some companies — like Ancient Harvest — take care of that by selling pre-rinsed quinoa.

    Fortunately, this process does not leach out any vitamins, minerals, or phytonutrients.


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Sweet Quinoa Breakfast

    Here’s a delicious — and healthy! — alternative to oatmeal for these wintry days.

    YIELDS: 1 cup (2 servings)


    1 cup prepared quinoa (follow instructions on box; as with rice, you can make one large batch and keep it in the fridge for later use)
    1/2 cup milk of choice (dairy, soy, almond, rice, etc.)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if using unflavored milk)
    1 teaspoon honey/agave nectar/yacon syrup (optional, if using unsweetened milk)
    1 tablespoon raisins or goji berries
    1 tablespoon raw walnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, chia seeds, or unsweetened shredded coconut
    2 tablespoons oat bran


    Place all ingredients in saucepan.

    Turn stovetop burner to high and place uncovered saucepan on top. Bring mixture to a boil.

    Once boiling is reached, lower heat to simmer and cover saucepan.

    Turn heat off after 5 minutes. Let saucepan sit on stove for a minute.

    Uncover saucepan, stir, and transfer contents to bowl.

    Top with 2 tablespoons oat bran.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving; assuming recipe is made with unsweetened soymilk):

    330 calories
    1.2 grams saturated fat
    100 milligrams sodium
    6.5 grams fiber (2.5 grams soluble)
    11.5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: fiber, manganese, monounsaturated fat, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, thiamin

    Good Source of: iron, niacin, riboflavin, protein


    You Ask, I Answer: Quinoa Cookies

    This weekend at a health food store I saw that a company called Andean Dreams sells quinoa cookies!

    I have tried quinoa in the past and think it’s bland.

    If I was to snack on just one of these cookies a day (only 140 calories), would it count as a serving of quinoa?

    — Natalie (last name withheld)
    Hackensack, NJ

    That would certainly be convenient, wouldn’t it?

    I’m going to have to burst your bubble and tell you that no, two of these cookies don’t come close to a serving of actual quinoa.

    Let me explain why.

    First up, the ingredient list:

    Organic Royal Quinoa flour, tapioca flour, rice flour, non-hydrogenated palm fruit oil, sugar cane juice, brown sugar, Quinoa pop grains, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), orange peel.”

    Although quinoa flour is a whole grain (offering approximately 4 grams of fiber per quarter cup), these cookies contain a mix of quinoa, tapioca, and rice flour.

    Thus, they are technically “cookies made with quinoa flour” rather than “quinoa cookies,” but that’s marketing for you!

    Notice, too, that there are two ingredients contributing sugar (sugar cane juice and brown sugar.)

    Now, let’s look at the nutrition facts.

    Two cookies contain less than a gram of fiber, and a mere gram of protein.

    Again, this is inferior to eating half a cup (one serving) of pure quinoa, which adds up to 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.

    Seeking healthy ingredients in otherwise nutritionally empty foods is exactly what many food companies want you to do.

    I, however, would like you to enjoy a cookie because of its flavor, rather than a healthy ingredient that, as a result of either being heavily processed or mixed with refined grains and sugars, ends up contributing very little to the product’s nutritional profile.

    If you find quinoa bland, try topping it with sautéed vegetables or adding chopped walnuts and raisins to it.

    If you find it bland after implementing those ideas, then just enjoy other whole grains.

    Although quinoa offers plenty of nutrition, so do many other foods.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Forty percent of adults in the United States consume a grand total of ZERO whole grain servings every day.

    Not the most encouraging of statistics.

    Although whole grains are increasingly more available, I suspect this has to do with a lack of education and knowledge.

    Many people, for instance, think multigrain bread is a whole grain. It’s not.

    Additionally, the overwhelming majority of new whole grain products come in the shape of sugary cookies or cereals “made with whole grains,” which can mean that as little as 5% of the total wheat flour used is whole.

    Not the best approach.

    If your whole grain consumption isn’t up to par, here are some ideas.

    — Whether at home or at a restaurant, opt for brown rice. Kitchen-phobes have no excuse. Many companies now offer brown rice that cooks in 10 minutes in the microwave. Nutritionally, it is equal to regular, longer-cooking varieties.

    — Enjoy whole wheat pasta, like DeCecco whole wheat fusilli (pictured at right). If you are brand new to it, make your dishes with half regular pasta and half whole wheat.

    — Eat whole grain bread (at least 3 grams of fiber per slice and ‘whole wheat flour’ as the first ingredient).

    — Experiment with alternative grains like quinoa and whole wheat couscous (they cook the exact same way as rice. All you need is a pot and water).

    — Add barley to your soups.

    — Start your morning with plain oatmeal (sweeten it up with fruits; add fiber and protein with walnuts or almonds)

    — Make sure your morning cereal is whole grain (again, look for whole wheat or oat flour as the main ingredient).

    — Snack on popcorn (air pop it or make it at home in a pot with a little bit of olive oil).

    — Make waffles and pancakes with whole grain mixes. If you buy frozen varieties, make sure they are whole grain.

    Remember, whole grains offer more health benefits than non-whole grains with extra added fiber.

    If you need more assistance, check out the Whole Grains Council’s amazing and extensive list of whole grain products. It’s the perfect supermarket assistant!


    You Ask, I Answer: Vegan Child’s Nutrition

    I have a picky eater at home, an 8-year-old I adopted last year from another country.

    She is still very suspicious of new foods, and I have taken to sneaking supplements into her diet wherever I can.

    She’s vegan and I’m vegetarian; I open up iron supplement capsules and sprinkle small amounts of iron into her food; same with B-complex capsules and multi-vitamin caps.

    She gets plenty of protein and fiber, since she’s happy to eat tempeh, beans, quinoa, peanut butter and lots of vegetables and fruits.

    I’m mostly concerned with her iron, B-complex, calcium and Omega-3 intake.

    The last two I can handle with flax oil, wakame powder and various calcium supplements.

    Actually, I still think she could be getting more calcium if she’d drink milk, but she won’t.

    — Jennifer Armstrong
    Saratoga Springs, NY

    Although I understand your concerns regarding your child’s nutrition, I believe she is doing just fine based on the eating patterns you describe above.

    First of all, I am impressed that an 8 year old appreciates the taste of quinoa and tempeh – nutritious foods that many adults shun, or downright don’t even know about.

    Most people with children your age are concerned about the increasing consumption of Doritos, Oreos, and soda!

    Alright, let’s discuss the specific nutrients you inquired about.

    As far as iron is concerned, there is no absolutely need to provide capsules.

    An omnivorous 8 year old should get 10 milligrams of iron a day; since your daughter is vegan – and therefore consuming solely non-heme sources – I would place her requirement at 15 milligrams.

    Note that between the ages of 9 and 12, this requirement will lessen to approximately 12 milligrams.

    Considering the iron amounts in these vegan foods, you’ll see why iron pills are basically a waste of money:

    Quinoa (1 cup): 6.2 milligrams
    Soybeans (1/2 cup): 4 milligrams
    Lentils (1/2 cup): 3.2 milligrams
    Kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas (1/2 cup): 2.5 milligrams

    Don’t forget enriched and fortified grains.

    Half a cup of fortified oatmeal provides 6.5 milligrams of iron, and a cup of enriched cereal (say, Cheerios) provides 9 milligrams!<

    In terms of calcium, she currently needs 800 milligrams a day, but this will jump to 1,300 from age 9 to 18.

    Again, though, no need for supplementation.

    It does take more planning than an omnivorous diet, but it can be done.

    Check out these values:

    Calcium-fortified orange juice (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soy yogurt (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soymilk (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Tofu (4 oz.): 260 milligrams
    Collard greens (1/2 cup): 175 mg
    Almonds (1 oz): 80 mg

    Although Vitamin B12 is often cited as an issue in vegan diets, fortification has made this former problem a lot easier to manage.

    Many popular cereals are fortified with vitamin B12.

    Let’s go back to the Cheerios example — 1 cup provides a third of a day’s needs.

    A cup of some (fortified) soymilks, meanwhile, contains 40 percent of a day’s worth of B12!

    Wakame – a kelp – is also a great source. It’s one of the few seaweeds that contains human-active B12 (as opposed to the analog type, which is useless in our bodies).

    In the event that B12 needs can not be met through food, I do recommend supplementation. Make sure it is specifically a B12 supplement and not a multivitamin containing B12 (vitamin C, vitamin E, and iron can impede absorption).

    Omega-3 fatty acids are the most difficult to get from a vegan diet, since walnuts and flaxseeds only contain alpha linoleic acid (they do not contribute EPA and DHA, the two essential fatty acids found in fish).

    However, Omega-3 supplements made from algae are vegan and contain EPA and DHA!

    While we’re on the topic of supplementation, I think everyone — carnivore, vegan, and everywhere in between — should supplement their diet with vitamin D.

    One last thing – don’t get discouraged by your daughter’s adverse reactions to new foods.

    Research has determined that it takes approximately eight to ten tries for a new food to be accepted by a young child.

    The key is slow integration.

    For instance, let’s say your daughter enjoys baby carrots but the first time she tried celery she wasn’t too keen on it.

    Rather than outright swap carrots for celery pieces overnight, throw in four or five chopped bits of celery next time you pack some baby carrots in her lunch box.

    This subtle addition of a new flavor will be less intimidating to her and less of a shock to her palate.

    Do this another five or six times. The results might surprise you!


    Quick and Healthy Recipe: Sizzling Seitan

    For those of you unfamiliar with seitan (pictured to the left, on the right hand side of that stir-fry dish), it is a popular meat substitute made of wheat gluten. Its consistency is chewy without being gummy and very much akin to a chicken breast.

    From a nutritional standpoint, it is a great lean protein — very low in fat (2 to 3 grams for a 3 ounce serving), high in protein (18 to 20 grams per serving), and high in iron (25 – 30 % of the daily recommended intake per serving).

    Seitan also offers 3 to 4 grams of fiber and approximately 8% of the calcium recommended daily amount in a three ounce serving.

    Supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s sell it, as do many conventional supermarkets in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, and Chicago. It is often located near produce, alongside tofu.

    The following recipe is not only healthy, I can also say I have served it — with much success! — to people who would scoff at eating meat substitutes.

    My only condition was that they had to taste the dish without knowing the ingredients, and tell me their honest opinion.

    I’m happy to say that a few minutes later I had a handful of carnivores asking me where they could get “this stuff”!

    Yield: 2 Servings


    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    3 garlic cloves, diced
    1 container White Wave seitan (cut the seitan into bite-size chunks)
    1 small orange pepper, diced
    1 small green pepper, diced
    Paprika powder, to taste
    Salt, to taste (I did not include any, and no one asked for a salt shaker)
    Pepper, to taste
    2 cups cooked quinoa (follow instructions on package; use 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water)
    1 medium avocado


    Heat the olive oil at medium-high temperature in medium sized pot.

    Once oil is sufficiently heated (you should see “waves” in the oil when you move it around the pot), throw in the diced garlic. Be sure to move it around often to prevent it from burning.

    Once the garlic reaches a golden color, throw in the diced peppers and increase the heat to high.

    Continue to heat for five minutes. Stir frequently.

    Add in seitan chunks.

    While stirring, add pepper and paprika powder, to taste.

    Stir for two minutes and then lower heat back to medium for five more minutes, stirring frequently.

    In a separate pot, make quinoa, following package directions.

    Once the seitan-vegetable medley and quinoa are done, cut a ripe medium-sized avocado into thin slices.

    Place a scoopful of quinoa in serving bowl. Top wih seitan-pepper chunks and avocado slices.


    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving)

    615 calories
    27 grams fat

    3.1 grams saturated fat

    15 grams fiber

    36 grams protein

    This meal is extremely heart-healthy — three quarters of its fats are of the monounsaturated kind, the absolute best for cardiovascular health!

    That being said, if you are interested in a lower-fat variety containing less calories, only include half an avocado, rather than a whole one. This results in 80 less calories and takes away seven grams of fat (as well as three grams of fiber, so be sure to throw in an extra vegetable like broccoli or shredded carrots to make up for that!)


    Simply Said: “wheat-free”/celiac disease

    The past five years have produced an increase in wheat-free products such as breads, pastas, crackers, and cookies.

    Although the claim “wheat-free” also accompanies other health-related ones such as “Low in saturated fat!” or “No added sugar!”, you should only be concerned with avoiding wheat if you have been diagnosed with an allergy to it or a genetic disease known as celiac disease.

    Celiacs can not tolerate gluten, a protein mainly found in wheat as well as barley and rye.

    When gluten is consumed — even if it’s as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon — the small intestine is damaged, and symptoms vary from extremely uncomfortable bloating and diarrhea to fatigue, mouth sores, and muscle cramps.

    Although approximately ten percent of celiacs don’t appear to show any symptoms, they are not immune from the nutrient malabsorption that occurs as a result of damage in the small intestine.

    Avoiding wheat, rye, and barley is not as easy as it sounds.

    Many medicines have traces of gluten, and cross-contamination can often happen in factories (which is why you will often see food labels for products that don’t contain either of those three ingredients warning consumers that the respective food was made in a factory that processes wheat).

    Once diagnosed (after a simple blood test), the lifestyle change can be hard, especially when dining out.

    A fish and vegetable stew might sound harmless, but that tomato sauce on top might have a little flour in it to thicken it. Frozen yogurts often use gluten as a stabilizing agent!

    Remember, even the slightest trace of gluten is enough to set off some very uncomfortable symptoms.

    Luckily, celiacs have more options than ever. Although all sorts of wheat flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, durum, farina, etc.) should be avoided, experimenting with other types (ie: chickpea, tapioca, rice) is recommended.

    Celiacs often end up introducing their palate to a variety of flavors — quinoa, amaranth, and flax often become a regular addition to their diet, rather than the “funky grain” they have once a month.

    Unfortunately, the only “cure” to celiac disease is complete avoidance of foods that damage the small intestine.


    All-Star of the Day: Quinoa

    I am a huge fan of whole grains, but quinoa (KEEN-wah) is my absolute favorite.

    This staple of Incan culture (their army swore by it and considered it as valuable as gold) is a nutritional powerhouse which is finally sharing shelf space with rice, cous cous, and pasta at general supermarkets after years of taking a backseat in specialty health food stores.

    Quinoa is not really a grain; it actually belongs to the same family of dark leafy green vegetables as spinach, but due to its texture and cooking method, it is referred to as a grain (thus, it is technically a pseudograin).

    And what a pseudograin it is! Quinoa, like soy, is a complete plant protein (meaning it contains all eight essential amino acids; many plant proteins lack the amino acid lysine).

    Containing very high levels of blood-vessel-relaxing magnesium — half a cup provides 50% of the daily requirement for a 2,000-calorie diet — quinoa helps treat hypertension and, some recent research suggests, migraine headaches.

    One cup of cooked quinoa packs 380 milligrams of potassium — another key mineral in preventing hypertension and offsetting the problems of too much sodium. To give you an idea, that’s as much potassium as a small banana!

    This South American superstar leaves many others grains in the dust.

    Compare one cup of quinoa with one cup of white rice:


    Calories: 254
    Fiber (grams): 4
    Protein (grams): 9
    Potassium (milligrams): 503


    Calories: 205
    Fiber (grams): 0.6
    Protein (grams): 4.3
    Potassium (milligrams): 55

    It gets even better! Quinoa is a prebiotic, meaning it promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in our intestinal tracts. The healthier our bacteria, the better chance we have of warding off infections and fighting back and disease-causing bacteria.

    And, as if all that wasn’t enough, quinoa is gluten-free, so celiacs can enjoy it — and all its benefits — with no side effects.

    Interested in trying some? Hunt down quinoa in your local supermarket or health food store (in the same aisle as rice) and go to town.

    Cooking it is easy. Simply mix in a pot with water, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the water is evaporated.


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