Have you tried quinoa? Quinoa - pronounced keen-wah - has a texture similar to rice or couscous, it has a very mild, nutty flavor and can take on more flavor by adding chicken broth and sauted veggies.
Although quinoa is a seed, its nutritional quality is most similar to a grain. Quinoa has double the protein per serving compared to other grains such as wheat, oats or rice. Quinoa is a complete protein; a complete protein means that this grain contains all essential amino acids needed by the body to work properly.
The increased protein in quinoa can help a person with better blood-sugar control and decreased cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. Controlling appetite and calories is key for weight loss.
Quinoa is also free of gluten and is considered easy to digest. It can be substituted for any other grain.
Quinoa is the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach and beets. Quinoa is a good source of fiber and high in phosphorous, magnesium and iron. It is cooked when it changes from white to transparent and the spiral-like germ has separated.
Quinoa seeds are naturally covered with bitter tasting saponins that naturally repel insects and birds. Rinsing in water removes the saponins. The saponins will produce a soapy-looking "suds" when quinoa is swished in water. Wash the quinoa in a fine strainer thoroughly (about 5 minutes) until water runs clear, or use prewashed quinoa so no rinsing is needed.
QUINOA VEGETABLE PILAF
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 medium red or orange pepper, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, green onions and garlic; cook and stir just until soft.
2. Add quinoa, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste; saut one minute to toast quinoa. Add broth. Bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
3. Add pine nuts and parsley, and serve.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 170 calories, 18 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein, 210 mg. sodium
Katie Wilhelmi is a registered dietitian at the Marshall Hy-Vee Food Store.