By Linda Wagner | July 21, 2011

Photo: Linda Wagner

Have you tried quinoa? If not, you should try it immediately!  Not only is it delicious but it also has a boatload of health benefits!

Prized as a sacred seed in the ancient Inca civilization, quinoa is still a nutritional treasure. This protein-packed food, with its nutty taste and chewy texture, is both flavorful and filling. The benefits of quinoa are as plentiful as its culinary uses. Here are a few of the roles quinoa can play in a healthy diet:

1. Protein Powerhouse
With one cup of quinoa having 9 grams of protein, quinoa is a complete protein and has a higher protein content than wheat, barley or other major grains, which helps with functions like growth, digestion and excretion. It’s a favorite dish among vegans and vegetarians, but the pleasures and benefits of it are available to anyone seeking an alternative to meat, eggs and dairy products as a protein source.

2. Dieter’s Dream
Rich in fiber and low in cholesterol, quinoa is digested slowly and has a low glycemic index, helping you steer clear of the blood-sugar roller coaster. A meal of vegetables and quinoa, is a dieter’s dream: high in vitamins, minerals and protein, while low in fat and calories.

3. Internal Cleanser/Detoxifier
As a complex carbohydrate, quinoa acts an internal cleanser, easing the progress of food through the digestive tract. Unlike more common grains such as wheat, quinoa is gluten-free and can be enjoyed by people with digestive disorders, like celiac disease. This versatile seed can be used in breads, soups or other foods where grains are a primary ingredient, offering a steady source of colon-cleansing fiber.

4. Bone Builder
For vegans, people with lactose intolerance, or those who are simply looking for non-dairy sources of this vital mineral, quinoa is a flavorful source of plant-derived calcium since one cup of cooked quinoa contains 30 milligrams of calcium. Quinoa also contains impressive quantities of potassium, magnesium and zinc, minerals that are crucial for heart, nerve and muscle function.

5. Brain Food
A cup of cooked quinoa offers 15 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brainpower. Quinoa’s vitamin B content can also help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume, and stabilize mood. (Source)

With a healthy nutritional profile like that, who wouldn’t want to get their hands on some quinoa? Yesterday I was craving something starchy and filling and quinoa sounded like the perfect fit to satisfy my craving. I spruced it up by adding some green veggies and spices to make a well rounded, healthy and satisfying meal.

Photo: Linda Wagner

There you have it, a healthy, hearty vegetarian meal that’s packed with greens and protein. Great as a side dish or on its own. Enjoy!

For more healthy living tips and recipes please subscribe to her blog, follow her on twitterLOVE her on facebook, or if you are interested in getting started on your own weight loss journey, shoot her an email!

Linda Wagner is behind one of our go-to sites for Nutrition and Lifestyle updates, where this post originally appeared.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 leek, sliced thinly
  • 1-2 broccoli florets, roughly chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into disks and then halved
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 stalks of kale, chopped into small strips
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp organic butter or ghee
  • sea salt, to taste
  • spices of choice- I used Frontier brand Adobo seasoning, and red pepper flakes- to taste


To Make the Quinoa:

1. In a pot or large saucepan bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa turn the heat down to simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes.

2. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork.

To Make the Vegetables:

1. In a skillet, first melt a pat of butter and saute garlic and green onions. Next add the sliced leeks, a few dashes of sea salt, and cook until leeks are soft. Then add sliced zucchini, broccoli, kale and a little water if needed.

2. Cover and cook until veggies are slightly soft. You may also add more salt at this time if needed. Lastly, add the spinach and frozen peas.

3. Toss with the cooked vegetables for about 30 seconds then add all of the vegetables to the quinoa and season to taste.

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