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Brown Bag Lunch: Southwestern Quinoa Bowl – Recipe + Health Benefits

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in Gluten Free, Lunch, Recipes, Vegan | No Comments

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With this time of year feeling like a bridge between summer and fall, I thought you’d all enjoy a salad that mimics that vibe.

Last week I came up with this lovely quinoa bowl. It feels a little more warming and comforting than a traditional cold quinoa salad because it has lovely Southwestern inspired spices. It also feels fresh because it has some red pepper, cilantro, and seasonal fresh corn. And it also solves that what the F am I going to make for lunch this week?! dilemma. It’s easy peasy and super healthy.

Health Benefits of Quinoa:

I just read that 2013 has been declared the year of quinoa. So eat up before the year is done. Here are some health benefits:

  • Protein content. Quinoa has a higher protein content than most grains. In actuality, quinoa (as well as amaranth, buckwheat and millet) aren’t really grains at all – they’re all actually seeds, and are often referred to as “pseudo grains.” In order for a food to be considered a complete protein, it must contain adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. An amino acid is considered essential if our bodies cannot make it, therefore it is important to get a balance of all amino acids to meet our daily protein requirements (especially if we’re relying on plant-based protein)! Luckily, quinoa is considered a full protein as it contains higher amounts of the essential amino acids lysine and isoleucine (that are found in amounts too low in other grains such as wheat).
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Antioxidant phytonutrients quercetin and kaempferol have been found in quinoa. Quinoa also contains omega-3 fatty acid ALA and vitamin E.
  • Gluten-free. This is especially important for those of you who are gluten-sensitive. Quinoa is a completely gluten-free grain. Personally, I like to eat g-free most of the time and find myself making lovely quinoa-based dishes on the regular.

Southwestern Style Quinoa Bowl
(serves 4)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ large onion, diced
1 tsp cumin (you can add one more tsp if you’re feeling adventurous)
½ tsp ancho chile or chile powder
½ tsp dried oregano
1 red pepper, diced
1-2 ears of fresh, organic corn
cilantro, leaves and stems
lime wedges to serve

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in the coconut oil until fragrant. Add spices and stir for a minute or two, taking care not to burn them. Add quinoa and stir to make sure that it’s coated with the spice and onion mixture. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add in a few cilantro stems for flavour. Reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the quinoa fluffs with a fork.

Meanwhile, dice the red pepper and shave the corn kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. When the quinoa is nearly cooked, add the corn and peppers to the pot. Cover and let cook for 2 minutes.

To serve, remove the cilantro stems, fluff with a fork, and top with fresh cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and optional diced avocado. Enjoy.

If you want a little more quinoa love, check out my recipes for a Broccoli and Cauliflower Quinoa Bowl and Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.

Wishing you plenty of plant-based protein in your life. xo Andrea

 

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