Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Warm Cinnamon Quinoa

Quinoa grain has been called a superfood, a term which is not in common use by dietitians and nutrition scientists. Protein content is very high for a cereal/pseudo-cereal (14% by mass), but not as high as most beans and legumes. The protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice and oats. Nutritional evaluations indicate that quinoa is a source of complete protein. Other sources claim its protein is not complete but relatively high in essential amino acids.

Weight loss does NOT mean you have to go low carb! Yes, there are plenty of carbs that you should be running away from (and I mean run away screaming) but hey, that's also the case with many proteins and fats. The real trick to fat loss is knowing which foods are the good and which are the bad in every category.

Quinoa is incredibly high in protein, and is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete. Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some folate (folic acid).

Since quinoa does not contain gluten or wheat, it is a perfect carbohydrate to include into your meal plans when you're following the "no wheat" plans  for details on why wheat and/or gluten may be preventing you from losing weight.

Quinoa is also very high in protein, and one of the great things about protein is that it keeps your blood sugar levels stable and makes you feel full longer. So where can you include quinoa into your weight loss and healthy meal plans? It's actually a perfect fit into your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since it is considered a carb, be sure to combine it with a protein for a complete, delicious and filling meal.

Here is one of my favorite hot breakfast recipes that's a nice change of pace from oatmeal.

Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup organic quinoa (rinse quinoa before cooking)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in blueberries and cinnamon (you can also add a little stevia to sweeten); transfer to four bowls and top with pecans or walnuts. Enjoy!

Here are many ways to enjoy Quinoa:
  • Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad.
  • Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
  • For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa.
  • Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
  • Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups.
  • Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.
  • Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat with which this Middle Eastern dish is usually made.

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