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Biggest Loser Nutritionist Shares Quinoa Recipe
Originating in the Andes more than 6,000 years ago, quinoa has been "rediscovered" of late closer to home -- and with good reason. Pronounced kin-WAUGH or kin-OH-ah, quinoa is an excellent source of protein, fiber, amino acids, iron and magnesium. No wonder it was renowned for increasing the stamina of ancient Inca warriors!
Quinoa is an especially good choice for vegetarians and vegans who need to up their protein intake; because it's gluten-free, people with wheat allergies or sensitivities can eat it.
Although often classed as a grain, quinoa is technically a seed from a plant related to spinach and beets. Three varieties of the plant are most commonly cultivated for seed production -- resulting in white, red and black quinoa. When cooked, the dried seeds have a fluffy texture with a bit of crunch, and impart a nutty flavor -- making quinoa a toothsome alternative to rice, couscous or even bulgur wheat in recipes.
Although modern processing removes most of the bitter, mildly toxic saponins that coat the seeds as they grow, it's a good idea to wash and drain quinoa before cooking. Once rinsed, prepare quinoa just as you would white rice -- that is, place one part quinoa to two parts water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes. When it's ready, the quinoa grains will still be a little chewy -- think al dente pasta -- and the germ of the seed will have separated slightly, creating a curly "tail."
You can find quinoa in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores, or in the bulk bin of your natural foods store. Because it contains protein and fats, quinoa is slightly more perishable than rice or other true grains; use it within three months of purchase.
Below is one of my favorite recipes for quinoa from the latest Biggest Loser book, 6 Weeks to a Healthier You. And to learn more about quinoa, try these links:
Like the conventional tabbouleh, this version made with quinoa contains more veggies than grains. Quinoa is thought of as a whole grain, but technically it's a high-protein seed native to South America. You can eat this as a salad, wrap a serving in lettuce leaves, tuck a serving in a whole-wheat pita, or serve it as a side dish.
MAKES 4 (1-1/4 CUP) SERVINGS
Meanwhile, in a medium-mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, lemon juice, oil, lemon peel, salt, pepper, and all but 1 Tablespoon of the scallions. Add the cooled quinoa to the mixture and stir just to blend. Cover and chill.
To serve, divide the tabbouleh among 4 plates. Top with the turkey. Garnish with the reserved scallion. This dish can be made 1 day in advance.
Nutrient Analysis Per Serving:
310 calories, 27 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates (3 g sugars), 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 35 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 420 mg sodium
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