Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Quinoa is nutritionally renowned for its protein content and while it does have a decent amount, it’s not actually the amount of protein that’s so impressive. Instead it’s the type of protein. Quinoa has the perfect balance of all nine amino acids essential for human nutrition. This type of complete protein is rarely found in plant foods, though common in meats. Quinoa also offers a good dose of fiber and iron. There are 111 calories in each 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa.
This quick-cooking, gluten-free whole grain grows in a rainbow of colors, but the most commonly available are red quinoa, black quinoa and white quinoa. Taste and nutrition are similar among the colors. White quinoa tends to cook up fluffier, while red quinoa and black quinoa have a crunchier texture and the grains don’t stick together as much.
Red quinoa makes a beautiful main-dish salad, but you can use whichever color you’d like.
Red Quinoa Salad
1 cup uncooked red quinoa
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced seeded tomato
1/2 cup (1/2-inch) diced seeded cucumber
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)
4 lemon wedges
Cook quinoa according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and place in a large bowl. Let cool 1 hour. While quinoa cools, combine oil and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Let stand 20 minutes. Add dressing, tomato, and next 4 ingredients (through chickpeas) to quinoa; toss well. Add cheese, and toss gently. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 6 (1 ¼ cup each.
Nutrition facts: Calories: 307; Fat: 16.5 g (3.3 g saturated); Carbohydrate: 32.3 g; Fiber: 5 g; Protein: 8.3 g; Sodium: 333 mg
Adapted from Cooking Light Real Family Food 2012
Amber Massey is a registered dietitian with the Executive Health Program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.