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Quinoa: Grain's Best Kept Secret

Posted by Active Toby on May 22, 2007 12:19:00 PM

The following recipe is courtesy of Tara Coleman, a certified clinical nutritionist in San Diego. Tara has developed a practical approach to nutrition that offers our endurance community straightforward information to take performance to new levels. She can be reached at for additional information about individualized food and supplement health programs.


[|]Quinoa (pronounced ?keen-wa?) is a nutritious grain that I integrate into all of my clients? meal plans. It originated in the Andes highlands and was revered as a sacred crop by the Incan civilization. During the European occupation of South America, the conquistadors overlooked quinoa and favored the potato as a staple of their diet ? and French fry lovers everywhere have rejoiced ever since! Today, however, quinoa has been embraced for its versatility and impressive nutritional profile.




Quinoa has a high level of protein (15 percent) and is one of the few non-animal sources of complete protein. It is also gluten-free and contains none of the allergens common to many grains. It is high in fiber and low-glycemic, providing sustained energy for both training and event day.




Quinoa has a texture similar to cous cous with a pleasant nutty flavor. It is found packaged or in bulk at most health food stores and can replace rice or cous cous in any recipe. Quinoa is cooked in a 2-to-1 water-to-quinoa ratio or in a rice cooker. It can also be toasted over low heat and added to granola or fruit for a quick snack. For those that are a little more adventurous try the recipe below:




Sweet and Spicy Toasted Quinoa

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups water

1 tbsp fresh ginger root, chopped

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves. chopped

1 quarter red onion, chopped

4 tbsp limejuice

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup walnut pieces

1 can mandarin oranges, drained




Toast the dry quinoa in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir consistently for about five minutes making sure not to burn. In a separate pot, bring the water, ginger, jalapeno, and salt to a boil. Add the toasted quinoa and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.




Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and allow to cool. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Serve cool.




Total Prep Time ? 30 minutes

Servings ? 4




This dish makes an excellent side for chicken or grilled fish. You can also mix in canned tuna or chicken for a quick meal on the go.


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