Quinoa is one of the world’s most popular health foods that has become very trendy among health-conscious people.
Here are some health benefits of quinoa-
- Quinoa is gluten-free, very high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids.
- It has a low glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar control and is very high in antioxidants.
- It is also high in fiber and important nutrients like magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
And some interesting facts about quinoa-
- Quinoa is not a grain. We cook and eat quinoa like many other grains, but, botanically speaking, it’s a relative of spinach, beets, and chard. The part we eat is actually the seed.
- There are roughly 120 types of quinoa.
- Quinoa has been cultivated for about 5,000 years and is native to South America.
- Twenty years ago, NASA researchers declared quinoa the perfect in-flight snack for astronauts on long-term missions because it is mineral-rich, gluten-free and contains all essential amino acids.
- Quinoa can grow in diverse climates and terrains, including areas with minimal irrigation and fertilization, or as little as three to four inches of annual rainfall.
- The color of the seeds varies, depending on where it is grown; there is a range of colors like black, grey, pink, red, yellow, green, orange or purple.
- Black quinoa is a hybrid variety that was developed by farmers in the Colorado Rockies. This happened when quinoa seeds were crossbred with a lamb’s quarter – a type of wild spinach.
- Traditionally, quinoa grain is harvested by hand, and only rarely by machine, because the extreme variability of the maturity period of most Quinoa cultivars complicates mechanization.
- Quinoa is used to brew Chicha, a traditional Andean beer.
In this recipe, I’ve used tricolor quinoa, which has the white, red and black varieties put together. Together with kidney beans and spinach, it makes an excellent nutrient-dense and protein-rich delicious meal, which I’ve supplemented with spicy roasted cauliflower and sauteed button mushrooms. The chilies and lemon add a zing to the nutty quinoa complemented by the earthy spinach and tangy cherry tomatoes. A vegan dish by nature, it can be a favorite of non-vegans, too. Just like the creamy mushroom quinoa.
Now onto the recipe –
Ingredients (serves 3)
- Quinoa – 1 cup
- kidney beans – 1/4 cup, soaked overnight
- water/veggie broth – two and a half cups
- spinach – chopped, 1 cup tightly packed
- cherry tomatoes – 1/2 cup, halved
- bell pepper – 1/2, thinly sliced
- cashew paste – made with 10 cashews and 2 tablespoons of water
- chili pepper – 1, minced (one more can be added if you can take the heat)
- garlic – 4 cloves, minced
- olive oil – 3 teaspoons
- lemon juice – 3 teaspoons
- parsley – for garnish
- Pressure cook the kidney beans – place the beans with 1 cup of water into the pressure cooker and seal the lid. After high pressure is reached (when the whistle goes off), simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- Boil the water/ vegetable broth, add quinoa and cook until fluffy, it takes around 20 minutes.
- Spread out the quinoa on a plate or tray.
- Heat up oil in a pan and stir-fry the minced garlic and chili.
- Add spinach and stir-fry until it wilts.
- Reduce the flame, stir in the cashew paste, kidney beans, bell peppers, tomatoes and salt and boil on low flame until the mixture reaches the consistency of a sauce.
- Remove from heat, mix in the quinoa and stir well.
- Stir in lemon juice and garnish with parsley.
- The time taken and water required for quinoa to cook depends on the variety and cooking mode.
- The instructions above are for cooking on stove-top. If using instant pot or electric cooker, the water and time can be reduced to 2 cups and 15 minutes respectively.
- Multicolored bell peppers can be used if you want the dish to be more vibrant and colorful. My options were limited since I had only the yellow one today 😦