The Benefits of Quinoa

If you’re not familiar with quinoa, then it’s a perfect protein to start incorporating into your diet. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals and is a good source of manganese as well as folate, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. In addition, it’s a great source of the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Because it’s such a complete protein with such a well-balanced amino acid profile, it’s a perfect alternative for vegetarians because it’s one of the few (non-meat) foods that provide all the essential amino acids that our bodies need.

Quinoa has a light and fluffy texture and a slightly nutty flavor when cooked. And it’s extremely versatile. It’s perfect in savory dishes or here, in my quinoa breakfast bowl. For this recipe, you can add just about anything you like to it such as cranberries, raisins, fresh fruit or even shredded coconut all work well with the recipe. And you can also substitute the honey with either agave nectar or maple syrup if you prefer. But here’s my favorite way to enjoy it:

quinoa breakfast bowl               serves 1

If you’re looking for an alternative to a hearty bowl of oatmeal that’s still nutritious, then this recipe is a great option. Quinoa, which is packed with protein, is a great substitute for the more traditional bowl of breakfast oatmeal. I make my version using a combination of both milk and water to cook the quinoa because I love the creaminess the milk gives the quinoa but you can simply use all water if you prefer. Serve it plain, with yogurt and toasted almonds or with your favorite dried or fresh fruit.

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk, divided
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped toasted almonds

1. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa, 1/2 cup milk and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Grains will be translucent and germ ring will be visible when done.
2. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, honey and remaining 1 teaspoon milk.
3. Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl and top with yogurt and almonds and serve warm. Image

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Wheat Berry Salad with Red Fruit

 

For this sweet and tart salad, wheat berries are blended with cranberries, apples and pecans and tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette—a winning combination. Serve over a bed of peppery arugula for lunch or a light supper.

 

6 servings, about 1 cup each

Ingredients

Wheat Berries

  • 2 cups hard red winter-wheat berries
  • 7 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

Salad

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large Fuji apple, unpeeled, diced
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted (see Tips) and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation

1. To prepare wheat berries: Sort through wheat berries carefully, discarding any stones. Rinse well under cool running water. Place in a large heavy saucepan. Add water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Drain and rinse. Let cool to room temperature. (Makes about 4 1/2 cups.)

2. To prepare salad: Combine orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.

3. Combine 3 cups of the cooked wheat berries, apple and pecans in a large bowl; stir gently. Drain the cranberries, reserving the juice. Stir the cranberries into the wheat berry mixture. (Refrigerate the extra cooked wheat berries for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.)

Whisk the reserved orange juice, vinegar and oil in a small bowl until combined. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and stir gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.