Italian-style Quinoa with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach & Olives

I still enjoy experimenting with quinoa dishes (even though I’ve created many). You can get very creative with this versatile, nutritious little seed.

Ingredients:

3½ cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (or 1 teaspoon salt)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can navy or northern white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
¼ cup chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon basil oil* (one of ME’s bulk olive oils)

*If unavailable you can use a combination of fresh basil and olive oil

Put water, bouillon, nutritional yeast, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes into a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add quinoa. Cover and return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook for 20–25 minutes (until tender). Remove from heat then add spinach. Cover saucepan to allow the residual heat to wilt the spinach. Add olives, capers, parsley and basil oil. Stir together. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6–8.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.

Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds. It is pronounced KEEN-wah. It technically isn’t a cereal grain, but a pseudo-cereal. In other words, it is basically a “seed” which is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain. Quinoa was an important crop for the Inca Empire back in the day. They referred to it as the “mother of all grains” and believed it to be sacred. It has been consumed for thousands of years in South America, although it only became trendy and reached “superfood status” a few years ago. These days, you can find quinoa and products made with it all over the world, especially in health food stores and restaurants that emphasize natural foods.
There are three main types: white, red and black.

Here are seven health benefits of quinoa:

1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.

2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fiber is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and may help you to lose weight as it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food.

3. Quinoa contains Iron. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron some more of which include neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

6. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.

7. Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.

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