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Thursday, June 17, 2010

QUINOA: One Super Food, 3 Different Ways!

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a staple food in our pantry. Although it looks and cooks like a grain often said to resemble couscous, it is actually a seed. This makes it a great nutrient-rich whole food substitute for rice and pastas. The tiny seed is considered a complete protein since it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies need. It is an excellent non-animal source of protein, but it doesn't stop there. Quinoa is also a great source of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, copper and riboflavin, just to name a few. Since it is jammed packed with nutrients, this healthy little "grain" has powerful anti-oxidant properties that can help protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, migraines and many more! It gets bonus points for cooking up to a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture in fifteen minutes, one-third the time of whole grain rice! All of these benefits make quinoa a fantastic and easy substitute for all of those starchy empty Summer BBQ calories we find in pasta and potato salads! Try making a light and refreshing quinoa salad instead. It is more delicious, certainly more healthy and its fiber will keep you full without the guilt!

Quinoa Summer Salad
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves fresh garlic minced (optional)
2 tbs. olive oil
4 tbs. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add quinoa and simmer for fifteen minutes. Let cooked quinoa cool, then toss with tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, then toss with the quinoa mixture. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
4 medium zucchini
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup almonds, chopped (about 2 ounces)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions: Heat oven to 400° F. In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Arrange in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Fluff the quinoa and fold in the beans, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and 3 tablespoons of the oil. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini. Top with the remaining tablespoon of oil and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake until the zucchini is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers
1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup red onion, grated and squeezed dry

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

Directions: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add quinoa and simmer for fifteen minutes. Let quinoa cool and then transfer to food processor fitted with metal blade. Add beans, onion, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of oil, garlic, jalapeno, salt, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Puree until smooth. Form into six 1/2-inch thick patties. Place bread crumbs in shallow bowl. Press patties into crumbs, turning to coat both sides. In non-stick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Cook patties in batches, turning once, for 8 minutes or until browned.

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