Whenever I talk about quinoa, I ask myself why I don’t eat it every day!
There’s a good chance you already know about quinoa, which is pronounced KEEN-wa. It has exploded into the public consciousness in the past few years. It’s written about in nutrition magazines, featured on cooking shows, and now it’s found in most grocery stores — including Trader Joe’s — usually near the grains.
Quinoa looks like brown rice; you can also get red quinoa, which looks like festive brown rice. They taste the same:
“The tiny, ancient Peruvian seed … is related to leafy green vegetables and is often used like a grain. Quinoa is as versatile as rice but it has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains, because it contains all the essential amino acids. In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content.” (NYTimes.com)
Now, that is worth reading again. Check it out:
The high lysine content makes quinoa a perfect post-workout food, because it helps your body build muscle by fueling tissue growth as you recover from your workout.
How does it do that? Well, if you eat a protein along with a carbohydrate right after you work out, that kick-starts your body’s muscle-building process. And quinoa is a protein and a carb all rolled into one. (Read more about “protein synthesis” at FAQs.org.)
Even if you don’t eat quinoa right after your workout, your body will be building muscle for up to 48 hours after a resistance-training workout (hello, Piloxing gloves!), so quinoa is a perfect part of your diet anytime.
If you have a rice cooker, use it to steam the quinoa (one cup quinoa, 2 cups water, just like rice). On a stovetop, quinoa is just as easy to make — easier than brown rice, in fact!
You can eat the quinoa plain — it has a mild nutty flavor — or mix it with cereal or salad or a sandwich. You can add it to soup or use it as a gluten-free substitute. You can use it as the basis of a chopped salad like the one in the photo.
The chopped ingredients in that salad are: quinoa, wheatberries, edamame, carrot, barley, tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, parsley. I actually did not make it — it came from Whole Foods — but it’s a pretty easy recipe, just the cooked and chilled grains and chopped vegetables.
On the side, the salad of quinoa and chopped vegetables came with a small cup of nonfat dressing made of orange juice, agave (a low-glycemic, natural sweetener), water, apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger and crushed chili peppers. What a great idea. The salad keeps its crispiness if you wait until just before you eat it to toss them together.
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