Mexican Quinoa with Vegetables and Chicken (Optional)

6 Mar

This evening for dinner Keith and I had one of my favorite new dishes we just started making when we bought the rice cooker.  I was super excited for dinner all day and boy did I have my fair share of quinoa tonight at dinner.  This recipe, shared below, is like a Mexican party in your mouth without all the grease, guilt and cheese of the typical Mexican eats.

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Quinoa is a great option to include in meals.  Lets take a look at why we should all eat the quinoa from WholeHealthMd.com:

Nutritionally, quinoa might be considered a supergrain–although it is not really a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant that’s distantly related to spinach. Quinoa has excellent reserves of Protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete (a trait it shares with other "non-true" grains such as buckwheat and amaranth). The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa at least equivalent to that in milk. Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some folate (folic acid).

An ancient grainlike product that has recently been "rediscovered" in this country, quinoa has a light, delicate taste, and can be substituted for almost any other grain.

Though quinoa is a recent addition to the North American larder, this crop, native to the Andes, sustained the ancient Incas, and has been cultivated continuously for more than 5,000 years. Quinoa thrives in poor soil, arid climates, and mountainous altitudes. Today, most quinoa is imported from South America, although it is being cultivated on the high slopes of the Colorado Rockies.

Quinoa grains are about the same size as millet, but flattened, with a pointed, oval shape. The color ranges from pale yellow through red and brown to black. Quinoa cooks quickly to a light, fluffy texture. As it cooks, the external germ, which forms a band around each grain, spirals out, forming a tiny crescent-shaped "tail," similar to a bean sprout. Although the grain itself is soft and creamy, the tail is crunchy, providing a unique texture to complement quinoa’s delicate flavor.

 

 

According to 3FatChicks.com, here are five more reasons to eat quinoa:

Prized as a sacred seed in the ancient Inca civilization, quinoa is still a nutritional treasure. This protein-packed food, with its nutty taste and chewy texture, is flavorful as well as filling. Once its bitter coating has been soaked or steamed off, the seeds are easily prepared and can be served in recipes where rice, wheat, corn or other grains are used. The benefits of quinoa are as plentiful as its culinary uses. Here are a few of the roles quinoa can play in a healthy diet:

1. Protein Powerhouse

Proteins are essential to the building and repair of the body’s tissues and to basic functions like growth, digestion and excretion. Quinoa has a higher protein content than wheat, barley or other major grains. One cup of quinoa has 9 grams, which trumps the protein-rich egg (6 grams). Quinoa, which contains all 8 of the essential amino acids, is a complete protein. It has become a favorite dish among vegans and vegetarians, but the pleasures and benefits of it are available to anyone seeking an alternative to meat, eggs and dairy products as a protein source.

2. Dieter’s Dream

Quinoa is a satisfying, low-cholesterol source of complex carbohydrates. Rich in fiber, it’s digested slowly and has a low glycemic index, helping you steer clear of the blood-sugar roller coaster. With its chewy texture, quinoa can be eaten at a leisurely pace. Its heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats will leave you feeling full while providing more nutritional content than breads or cereals made of refined grains. Quinoa can be eaten as a breakfast food to provide long-lasting energy and help you breeze through your morning workout. A meal of vegetables and quinoa, or quinoa and beans, is a dieter’s dream: high in vitamins, minerals and protein, while low in fat and calories.

3. Internal Cleanser/Detoxifier

As a complex carbohydrate, quinoa acts an internal cleanser, easing the progress of food through the digestive tract. Used regularly in your diet, quinoa can help keep you free of constipation and bloating. Unlike more common grains such as wheat, quinoa is gluten-free and can be enjoyed by people with digestive disorders, like celiac disease. This versatile seed can be used in breads, soups or other foods where grains are a primary ingredient, offering a steady source of colon-cleansing fiber. The vitamin B and folate in quinoa also help the liver in its role of eliminating wastes from the body, adding to quinoa’s detoxifying properties.

4. Bone Builder

For vegans, people with lactose intolerance or those who are simply looking for non-dairy sources of this vital mineral, quinoa is a flavorful source of plant-derived calcium. Calcium builds and maintains bones and teeth, helps regulate the contraction of the heart, and facilitates nerve and muscle function. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 30 milligrams of calcium. Quinoa also contains impressive quantities of potassium, magnesium and zinc, minerals that are crucial for heart, nerve and muscle function.

5. Brain Food

A cup of cooked quinoa offers 15 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power. Quinoa’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood.

Mexican Quinoa with Vegetables and Chicken

Serves:  8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 carton mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 chicken breast, diced (you can skip this to make it a vegetarian meal or add in other protein options such as shrimp)
  • 1 tbsp. crushed red peppers
  • 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt (optional)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed (this helps remove some unwanted sodium)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • Jar of your favorite salsa

Directions

1.  Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2.  In a sauté pan, add in 2tbsp coconut oil and add in the onion and green pepper.  Once they start to get soft, add in the garlic mushrooms and chicken breast.  Once fully cooked and tender, stir in the crushed red pepper, black pepper and sea salt.

3.  Heat the black bean over the stove and add them to the quinoa.  Add the vegetable and chicken mixture to the quinoa and black beans.

4.  Serve warm with fresh tomatoes, green onion, avocado and salsa.

Enjoy!

*Jalapenos would also be a great option to add into the vegetable mixture as well.

 

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Question:  What is your favorite way to eat quinoa?

 

10 Responses to “Mexican Quinoa with Vegetables and Chicken (Optional)”

  1. Lisa @ Healthy Diaries March 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    This looks delicious! I usually just eat quinoa with veggies but i love your spin on a mexican version. That sounds so good!

  2. Corrie Anne March 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    YUM! I’m on a little quinoa craze right now. I even tried a breakfast recipe for it this morning. It can do no wrong. :)

  3. Priya March 7, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    That looks so appetizing! I like to do an Indian take on this by making a quinoa pilaf or make a quinoa tabbouleh salad for days when I feel like creating some middle-eastern fare..never tried the mexican variation though. I have to try out this recipe soon.

  4. minnesoyoga March 9, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Yum! I want to make this this weekend. I have had a few veggie burgers lately with Quinoa in it. I believe it was Keith’s mom who first told me about the grain years ago. Have you guys ever made veggie burgers? I bet you would be great at it :-)

    • Trainer Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life March 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

      We haven’t made veggie burgers, but I’ve been wanting to make black bean burgers for months now. Know any great recipes?

      • minnesoyoga March 14, 2012 at 10:11 am #

        Ryan and Kath made black bean burgers, I will check with them for their recipe. XO

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