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 lemon-garlic quinoa with kidney beans, I’ve used tricolor quinoa, which has the white, red and black varieties put together. Together with kidney beans and spinach, the lemon-garlic quinoa 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.
Recipe for lemon-garlic quinoa with kidney beans
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 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 😦