#20: Wondrous Quinoa

To this day, rarely but consistently, I am asked: “So where do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?” I have to say I’m amazed that this is still a concern at all, since there are so many, many people now who eat vegetarian and vegan diets, and so many who show up in the news as having had life-changing experiences from changing their eating habits.

However, I do respect the question, especially since it means one more person is not only interested, but also getting educated, and who knows, might give vegetarianism a try.

One powerful little grain that might be new to some is called quinoa. It’s been around, just not so much in the mainstream. Now with the food revolution that’s going on, it’s gaining some popular press, and people are curious.

Quinoa (kee-no-ah) is an excellent source of protein. It’s also a good source of fiber, B vitamins and iron. It’s extremely low fat, extremely low sodium, and contains all eight amino acids, if you go in for that sort of nutritional factoid. So what do you do with it? It’s super versatile, a lot like couscous, so you can make a cold salad with it, or a hot side dish, or even an entree, like the one I’ve included here. Try it! I bet you’ll like it….

Quinoa and Black Beans (allrecipes.com)

  • 1 t oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ¾ c uncooked quinoa
  • 1 ½ c vegetable broth
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c frozen or canned corn
  • 2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ c chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the oil (we use olive or grapeseed, though original recipe says vegetable oil) in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and sauté until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Stir corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes, or until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.
  4. Eat as is, or spoon into tortillas to use as a filling for burritos! We add avocado and salsa. Yum!