In recent years, quinoa’s status as a nutritional powerhouse has become more widely known. Its top claim to fame comes from it being a complete protein source, one of the few in the plant world. This makes it an excellent addition to vegetarian and vegan diets. Most people easily confuse quinoa for a grain, however it is actually related to the spinach family and is more of a vegetable relation than a grain.
Additional benefits of quinoa include its fatty acid and phytonutrient content. Quinoa is a source of monounsaturated fats and (at a lower level) omega-3 fatty acids. Many of its phytonutrients have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory studies. This reduction of inflammation can be critical to endurance athletes’ rapid recovery after lengthy races or training efforts. Finally, quinoa is a non-allergenic “grain,” and is suitable for consumption by those wanting or needing to follow a gluten-free diet.
Nutritional Profile per ¾ C serving of cooked quinoa (with comparison to other grains)
6.35 g Protein (10% of DV; noticeably higher)
29 g CHO (slightly lower)
3.2 g Fiber (10% of DV; slightly lower)
2.73 g Fat (higher than many other grains, but only 0.5g is SFA and >2g are MUFA)
One serving of quinoa is an excellent source of Manganese, Copper, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Zinc, and Folate.
Quinoa can be enjoyed at any meal. Cooked quinoa can be mixed with nuts, fresh or dried fruits, seeds, or granola to make a delicious oatmeal-like breakfast. It can also be the base for many creative salads – add chopped tomatoes, nuts, and herbs to make tabbouleh, or add beans and salsa for a delicious Mexican-flavored salad. Cooked quinoa can be added to soups or stews to add protein and creates a thick and heartier soup/stew.
With the recent uprising in quinoa’s popularity, the grain has been incorporated into a plethora of dishes, meals, and snacks. So much so, that I frequently hear of athletes getting “burnt-out” on this superfood. To avoid the frequent consumption and tiring of quinoas taste, try using quinoa flour in baked goods without becoming “burnt-out” on the flavor but still reaping the nutritional benefits.
Each serving is 45g dry, or approximately ¾ – 1 C cooked.
“Excellent source” = providing >20% of DRI / DV per serving.
Quinoa Snack Bars
Recipe courtesy of Marin Mama Cooks:
• ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
• ½ teaspoon vanilla
• 1 extra-large or large egg
• ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
• ¼ cup local raw honey or maple syrup
• ½ cup quinoa flour
• 1 cup cooked quinoa – you can use fresh or leftover quinoa
• 1 cup rolled oats – you can use gluten-free oats to keep these bars gluten-free
• ½ cup roasted almonds, finely chopped
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxseed
• ½ cup tart dried cherries or raisins, finely chopped OR ½ cup mini dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1. If you have roasted almonds and leftover quinoa, then you can bypass the next two steps.
2. If you don’t have any leftover quinoa then you will have to cook some:
A. Cooking quinoa: Bring 1 cup well rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Once the quinoa has come to a boil, stir, cover it, and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook the quinoa until all the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Note: Please check your package of quinoa for cooking instructions, as they all vary.
B. The quinoa is done when its tender and you can see the little quinoa curlicues. Let the quinoa cool a bit. Note: You will have leftover quinoa, but you can use it for so many dishes throughout the week.
3. Next, if you don’t have roasted almonds on hand, you can toast some raw almonds.
A. Measure out ½ cup raw whole almonds and add them to a dry skillet, set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Remove from the pan and roughly chop the almonds into small pieces.
4. Grease an 8×8 pan and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
5. Measure out the ⅓ cup applesauce, ½ teaspoon vanilla, ⅓ cup peanut butter and ¼ cup honey.
6. Combine the applesauce, vanilla, egg, peanut butter and the honey in a medium-sized bowl, and whisk together well.
7. Add to the peanut butter mixture, the ½ cup quinoa flour, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 cup oats, chopped nuts, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon chia seeds and the ½ cup dried fruit or chocolate chips, and using a spatula combine until mixed together.
8. Spoon the mixture into the greased 8×8 pan using a spatula to smooth out the top.
9. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown.
10. Let the bars cool a bit, and cut into small squares. You can either cut up the bars and individually wrap them for on-the-go convenience, or cover the bars and cut up as needed.
We want to hear from you- tell us your favorite Quinoa recipe on the WCA facebook page or blog…
Best of Health,
Sarah Weber, RD, LD.