Quinoa's Powerful Micronutrients & Two Light Spring Recipes

Quinoa is one of the most popular superfoods right now because of its many health benefits.  It’s versatility makes it easy to use in the kitchen and is one of the reasons we use it in our Super Muesli.  While it’s similar to many other plants in its basic nutrient profile with complex carbs, fiber, fat, and protein, what really sets it apart is the variety of powerful micronutrients it contains.

Phytonutrients

Quinoa is rich in phytonutrients that may have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Among others, quinoa contains quercetin and kaempferol (also tough to pronounce, but good to eat!), two flavonoids that have shown promising research to reduce the risk of cancer1 and inhibit viruses while also protecting the neuro-system2.

Amino Acids

Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids.  Most grains are not adequate total protein sources because they lack the essential amino acids lysine and isoleucine, both of which are found in quinoa, making it a complete protein source.  Lysine is necessary for production of antibodies, hormones, and enzymes.  Isoleucine is a branched-chain-amino-acid necessary for muscle recovery and assists in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

Vitamins & Minerals

Quinoa is packed with vitamins and minerals. It has vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, potassium, riboflavin plus minerals manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc, magnesium and folate. These are all important to various body functions. Riboflavin can reduce headaches by promoting blood vessel expansion in the brain while magnesium is important for overall blood vessel function.

Try it in these light, healthy recipes-

Parsley and Quinoa Tabbouleh with Pita and Spiced Yogurt

Parsley and Quinoa Tabbouleh with Pita and Spiced Yogurt

Recipe and photo by Amelia at Simple Provisions

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup black or red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 2 cups curly parsley
  • 1/2 cup mint
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of half a lemon

Spiced Yogurt

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprka
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 pita breads
Directions
  1. Rinse quinoa under running water. Place in a pot with two cups of water, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool (you can place it on a tray and put it in the fridge to speed this up).
  2. While quinoa is cooking, dice tomato and cucumber, slice the spring onions and finely chop the herbs. Place the dressing ingredients in a small jar, screw on the lid and shake to combine, set aside. Place all the yogurt ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine, set aside as well.
  3. When quinoa is cool, stir in the vegetables and herbs, and then the dressing.
  4. Place pita breads on a hot griddle to toast.

To serve-
Serve pita with accompanying yoghurt and salad for your eaters to assemble themselves, perhaps with some chicken breast or grilled steak on top, or spread each pita with yoghurt and top with salad to serve prepared, ready to eat.

 

Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

 

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (2 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/4′-thick slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1/2 small pomegranate)
Directions
  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is just tender and lightly golden, 10–12 minutes.
  2. Stir in lemon juice, cumin, and sugar; cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain; return to pan. Cover; let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork; transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Using a small sharp knife, cut all peel and white pith from lemon. Cut between membranes to release segments; discard membranes and roughly chop.
  5. Add lemon with any juices and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to quinoa; stir.
  6. Add fennel mixture, chile, and herbs. Toss gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer salad to a platter; sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Sources:

1. Dietary flavonoids and cancer risk: evidence from human population studies. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15572291

2. A review on the dietary flavonoid kaempferol. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21428901

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