One-Dish Dinner: Quinoa & Veggies

Quinoa is one of those super-foods that is gaining momentum in the American diet, and when paired with some vegetables, packs a nutritional punch!  Quinoa has been used for thousands of years, with its origins in the Andean region of Peru and Bolivia.

The main reason this food, which is actually a seed – not a grain – is so touted is that it is the only complete source of non-animal protein.  This means that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, making it a wonderful option for vegans and vegetarians.  It is a great way to add variety to a healthy whole-grain diet and it is gluten-free, making suitable for those with Celiac disease or allergies.

Other perks are that it is alkaline and is low in the glycemic index, making it a good choice for those who need a low-acid diet and for individuals with diabetes.  Check the nutritional facts below for more details.

For one serving of quinoa, ¼ cup dry:

Calories 155
Total Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 29 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 6 g

Quinoa also comes in many varieties including white, black and red as well as in flour and flake form for adding to recipes and baked goods.  It is easy to prepare and makes for quick and wholesome dishes by pairing it with vegetables and healthy oils, such as in the recipe below.  Feel free to swap out or add your favorite vegetables and herbs. 

Ingredients:

  • Cooked quinoa (using ½ cup dry)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • ½ small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil, or 1 tbsp fresh
  • 1 can (2.25 oz) sliced black olives
  • 2 mozzarella string cheeses, cubed

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pan and sauté garlic.  Add tomatoes and zucchini, salt, pepper, and herbs.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, until vegetables are softened.
  3. Add sautéed vegetable mixture to cooked quinoa and toss.  Cool mixture before adding olives and cheese cubes.  Can be enjoyed cold or hot.

Makes 2 servings – Nutrition Facts: Calories: 333; Total Fat: 16 g; Protein: 14 g; Carbohydrates: 37 g

By Alyssa Puorro, RD

References:

http://www.rlc.fao.org/en/publications/quinoa-ancient-crop-food-security/

http://www.quinoa.net/199.html

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/calculator

Photo credit: www.thegardengrazer.com via posts for syndication at www.healthyaperture.com

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