Over the past few years, quinoa has become increasingly popular. Google has this nifty tool, Google Trends that allows you to search words or phrases to see how their popularity has increased or decreased over time. The graph below demonstrates how significantly quinoa's popularity has increased over the past decade.
So what's the hype all about?
Quinoa is one of the few plant based protein sources that is a complete protein. This means that it contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required to for your body to synthesize protein. We need protein to help build and repair our muscles and tissue, aid with cell growth for these new body tissues, and help form enzymes for antibodies or hormones.
Quinoa is also gluten-free, so it is a great alternative to rice for those with Celiac's Disease or gluten intolerant. They use quinoa to produce pasta, flour, cookies, and other gluten-free alternative products.
Quinoa is also nutrient dense, meaning that it contains a lot of nutrients are body needs with relatively low calories. 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa will provide you with 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of sugar, and 220 calories. It is considered a whole grain, and contains a wealth of micronutrients including manganese, potassium, iron, phosphorous, copper, magnesium, folate, vitamin B-6, calcium, and zinc. Eating nutrient dense foods provides your body with the nourishment it needs and prevents excess storage of fat, which tends to occur when you consume foods that are high in calories, sugar, and fat.
I happened to grab a mix of quinoa, millet, and buckwheat accidentally (which happens all too often for me, especially if grocery stores are crowded and I'm rushing to get out), but the instructions and taste are the same! I created this recipe so that I can include some vegetables from my garden (zucchini & jalapeno) as well as corn & grape tomatoes from the farmer's market. I also recently purchased Spice It Up's Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar and I have been dying to try it out in a recipe. Spoiler Alert- it complements this well and it is delicious!
Quinoa with Zucchini, Corn, and Tomatoes
- 1.5 cups of quinoa cooked
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup of grape tomatoes, either halved or quartered
- 1 ear of corn, kernels removed
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
- Spice It Up's Garlic Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Spice It Up's Lemon Balsamic Vinegar
- Seasonale Aromatic Herbal Sea Salt
- Fresh Basil
- Coat a saute pan with Spice It Up's Garlic Olive Oil and heat on the stovetop
- Add the chopped zucchini and grape tomatoes to the pan and saute for about 5 minutes
- Add the corn kernels and saute for another 3-5 minutes longer-- the zucchini will become partially translucent and the corn will be soft
- Add 1-2 shakes of the Seasonale Aromatic Herbal Sea Salt to the vegetables and mix in well.
- Place the sauteed vegetables in a bowl and mix in the quinoa and Spice It Up's Lemon Balsamic Vinegar
- Top with fresh basil
- Serves 4 as a side dish
- For a main dish, feel free to add 2 cups of chickpeas (or bean of choice) or 1 pound of cooked and chopped chicken sausage
Nutrition Facts, per serving
Fat: 7 g
Carbs: 22 g
Sugar: 3 g
Sodium: 125 mg
Protein: 7 g