Posted by: Joe Nuss on Dec 26, 2011
By Brandon McDearis
If one of your goals for the new year is to eat a bit cleaner, then you should definitely try this month’s recipe. Study after study shows the many benefits of eating a diet high in fiber, yet we Americans most often come up very short on this recommendation. Quinoa is always a great high-fiber vegetarian option, as it contains all of the complete essential amino acids that are found in animal products, plus it has the added bonus of being a whole grain. Chickpeas are also high in fiber and protein and contain phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. The immune-boosting and detoxifying onion and garlic, the healthy fat in the olive oil and the high nutrition value of the spinach make this recipe all the more nourishing.
Enjoy this for either lunch or dinner, as a main course or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken. There is much room to improvise with this recipe by adding other vegetables and spices. I often add a little soy sauce, sweet chili and mirin for an Asian kick. It serves 8.
- 1 cup royal quinoa
- 1 can organic chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
- 1 small to medium-sized onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine
- juice from half a lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne or Tabasco
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups baby spinach, packed tightly
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. (Generally, the preparation is similar to that of rice, being 1.5 times the amount of water for the amount of quinoa in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for a few minutes until the water is absorbed.)
- Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the olive oil at medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue sautéing until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chickpeas and the white wine and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for about 5-8 minutes while stirring often.
- Once most of the wine has evaporated, remove from heat, add the quinoa to the chickpea mixture, along with the lemon juice and cayenne (or Tabasco), and season well with salt and pepper. Last, incorporate the baby spinach a handful at a time.
Calories: 196 / Fat: 6g / Saturated Fat: 1g / Carbohydrates: 31g / Fiber: 4g / Protein: 7g
What is Quinoa?
Though relatively new to the United States, quinoa has been cultivated in the Andean mountain regions of Peru, Chile and Bolivia for more than 5,000 years, and it has long been a staple food in the diets of the native Indians. The Incas considered it a sacred food.
It’s often thought of as a grain, but quinoa is actually the seed of a plant related to beets, chard and spinach. These amino acid-rich seeds area very nutritious – and very delicious. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet slightly crunchy. They have a delicate, somewhat nutty flavor. While the most popular type of quinoa is a transparent yellow color, other varieties feature colors such as orange, pink, red, purple or black.
Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa is also a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, folate and phosphorus, and may be especially valuable for people with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.
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Brandon McDearis is a personal chef working in the Charlotte area. He currently owns and operates Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com. In addition to his culinary training, Brandon also holds a bachelor of science degree in foods and nutrition, with a concentration in dietetics. He primarily focuses on healthy cooking and addressing specific dietary needs of everyone from professional and amateur athletes to busy families and elderly people.
Brandon is also one of the board of directors for Wellspring International Outreach (www.wellspring-outreach.org) and works with a group of others to raise money for the abandoned children of Peru.