Monday, December 6, 2010

Discovering the protein power of quinoa

As I'm no longer living by myself, I've been discovering the joy of cooking together with my partner. We enjoy perusing local groceries and farmer's markets on the weekends for the best deals on healthy and organic (preferably locally grown) foods, then going home and making big batches of mostly invented dishes to pack for our lunches, snacks and dinners to sustain us through the work week.

For the past few weeks, we've been really getting into quinoa, the seed (sometimes referred to as a grain) that nourished the mighty Incans of Peru. We've experimented with the red and white varieties, so far, and really enjoy the nuttiness of the red. Next trip to Whole Foods we plan to pick up the black. As a protein staple, we make a batch of quinoa and mix in frozen peas, then divide these up into portions that can either be added to some other recipe in the future or eaten as a stand alone side dish or afternoon snack.

Unlike wheat, rice or oats, which each lack at least one essential amino acid, quinoa is a complete source of protein. Each 100g serving packs a 4g protein punch, and only has about 120 calories, 3g of fiber and 2g of fat (the good kind). We usually eat larger serving sizes, and even eat it later in the evening (as our schedules often have us eating after 8 or 9 p.m.).

Even though it's a carb, and it isn't recommended for those losing weight to eat carbs so late in the evening, because I'm doing weight training throughout the week it's perfect for me to eat quinoa this late because its proteins are slow absorbing, like that of the milk protein casein, which feeds my muscles overnight and leaves me feeling satiated and energized in the morning.

If you haven't tried quinoa yet, you should. I'll be posting some recipes in the future as we try some. I found few good ones today and plan on sharing them soon.

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