Cajun Quinoa

This recipe is a variation of my Cajun Quinoa Salad. Now that the weather is cooler,  I am more inclined to prepare warm dishes (rather than salads). To stay true to its name, “Cajun”, I added the Cajun holy trinity, which consists of celery, peppers, and onions. The nutritional yeast gives the dish extra flavor–and protein. This recipe is mild so if you like spicy food you can add hot pepper (cayenne) or more cajun seasoning.

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1¾ cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I like Rapunzel brand), or 1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. Cajun spice blend (available in ME’s bulk spice section)
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
2–3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 small celery stalk, diced
¼ cup chopped scallions

Put water, bouillon, Cajun spice and 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast into a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add quinoa. Cover and return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook until done (15–20 minutes). Set aside. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, bell pepper and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes then add the remaining nutritional yeast (1 Tbs.). Cook for 15–20 minutes, until veggies are very tender. Add veggies and chopped scallions to the quinoa, and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

  • With 18 amino acids, nutritional yeast is a complete protein. It is considered to be 55% high quality protein. In addition to that, it has 15 minerals.
  • For vegetarians and those who are on a low cholesterol diet, yeast is a great substitute for meat, dairy products or other sources of proteins that are also rich in fats.
  • It is a rich source of vitamin B complex which helps in managing stress levels, maintains a good metabolic rate, prevents cancer of the pancreas and ensures a healthy skin.
    In fact, vitamin B12 which is deficient in most vegetarian foods is also added in certain varieties of nutritional yeast. This vitamin is produced separately from bacteria and then added to yeast to increase its health benefits.
  • Nutritional yeast consists of a trace mineral – chromium, which is known as Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF). It is beneficial for dealing with diabetes, low blood pressure and fluctuating blood sugar levels.
  • It is also rich in manganese, copper, vanadium, molybdenum and lithium.
  • Other health benefits include:
    It maintains ideal intestinal ecology.
    It improves blood production.
    It helps in maintaining optimum cholesterol levels.
    It improves liver health and function.

Nutritional Yeast in Your Diet

It’s nutty and cheese like flavor also has a role to play in popularizing this supplement. It is favored by many people as a cheese substitute. Here are some ways in which it can be included in the diet:

  • Use it as a topping for popcorn, instead of butter and salt.
  • Put in on your scrambled eggs.
  • Use it for its cheesy flavor in pizzas, pastas and casseroles.
  • Add to soup to give it a creamy taste without adding milk.
  • Use it with fried or mashed potatoes.
  • It can be used with gravies and sauces.
  • Mix it with vinegar and oil and use as salad dressing.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon with every 2 cups of vegetable mixture for burgers.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast to each cup of flour while making baked foods.
  • What is best about this yeast is that it is a tasty way of staying healthy. Just sprinkle a few flakes in your soup or in your breakfast cereal, and get a tasty meal fortified with proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

Although referred to as a grain, it is actually a seed from a vegetable related to Swiss chard, spinach and beets.

  • High quality proteinwith the nine essential amino acids, the protein balance is similar to milk. At 16.2 to 20 percent protein, it has is more protein than rice (7.5 percent), millet (9.9 percent) or wheat (14 percent).
  • Great source of riboflavin. Riboflavin has been shown to help reduce the frequency of attacks in migraine sufferers by improving the energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells.
  • Inca warriors had more stamina and quicker recovery time by eating these quinoa seeds, making it a truly ancient powerfood.
  • Antiseptic. The saponins from quinoa are used to promote healing of skin injuries in South America.
  • Only 172 calories per 1/4 cup dry (24 of the calories from protein and only 12 from sugars, the rest are complex carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fats). Not fattening!
  • Gluten-free. Since it is not not related to wheat, or even a grain, it is gluten-free.
  • Alkaline-forming. Although it is not strongly alkaline-forming, it is comparable to wild rice, amaranth, and sprouted grains.
  • Smart Carb: It is a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index, so it won’t spike your blood sugar.
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