Health Benefits of Quinoa

QuinoaQuinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is one of the latest superfoods and has quickly become a very trendy addition to foods commonly served in households and restaurants across America.

Quinoa is the edible seed of the goosefoot plant, exclusively grown in South America. It is a natural gluten-free alternative that is packed with iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber. Though quinoa is a seed, it is still considered a whole grain and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer and obesity. Quinoa is also non-GMO and usually grown organically.

There are three different types of quinoa: white, red and black. White is the most common form of quinoa and appears light brown in color. One cup of quinoa provides 210 calories and 8 grams of protein, which is equivalent to one ounce of meat.

How do I cook with quinoa?
Incorporating quinoa into your diet is easy—just use it in place of rice in any recipe. The small grains cook in about 15 minutes, and the subtle nutty taste makes quinoa a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. Try it in baking, as a breakfast grain, in hot side dishes and cold salads or even in burgers.

What does quinoa taste like?
Quinoa has a naturally bitter coating called saponin, which keeps insects away without having to use pesticides. It is easily removed by rinsing quinoa with water prior to consuming. Although most packaged quinoas have the saponin already removed, it is a good idea to give it an extra rinse before cooking.

Memorial Medical Center Pizza Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
1 fresh red pepper
1 fresh yellow pepper
½ cup quinoa, prewashed
¼ cup vegetable base
¾ cup water
¾ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ ounce fresh spinach, chopped
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Black pepper to taste
Fresh garlic, minced

    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
    2. Wash peppers and remove stem end. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and tough white membrane.
    3. Place peppers in a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes or until roasted. Set aside.
    4. Combine quinoa, vegetable base, garlic and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes, and fluff with fork. Stir in tomato sauce, 1 ounce mozzarella cheese and spinach.
    5. Season with black pepper and oregano.
    6. Fill each pepper half with ½ cup of the quinoa mixture.
    7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
    8. Garnish each pepper with the remaining ½ ounce of mozzarella and parsley.

Makes 4 servings
170 calories
4 grams fat
5 mg cholesterol
400 mg sodium
25 grams carbohydrates
8 grams protein

Megan McMillan is an intern for Memorial Medical Center Food & Nutrition Services and is earning her bachelor’s in Food Nutrition Management at Illinois State University.