I guess I’m late to the superfood party, having recently discovered quinoa. (If you too are uninitiated, you should know that you pronounce this word as “kee-nwah”. Not obvious.) Someone told me about it (pronouncing it correctly) but I did not associate that sound with the word that I saw when I perused the bulk food offerings at my local natural foods market. I bought some, and then had to figure out what to do with it. Only later did I realize this substance was the food that my friend was recommending! As I mentioned in my fitness goals post, my plan this year to try one new recipe a week, and quinoa was the first thing on my list.

Uncooked versus cooked quinoa

Quinoa looks like a grain, but technically it’s a seed that comes from the Andes Mountains in South America. The seed is very small, smaller than rice and reminiscent of couscous. You cook it like rice, with 2 parts water and 1 part quinoa. When cooked, the seed bulks up and has a texture much like couscous. But it has a lot more health benefits than either rice or couscous, so it’s definitely something that I want to try in different recipes.
A few reasons to like quinoa:

  • It’s very high in protein and high in fiber. That means your tissues have building blocks for growth and repair, and fiber aids the digestive process.
  • It’s a great antioxidant. That means it neutralizes components in your body that cause damage to cells.
  • It’s got all nine amino acids. That makes it a complete food, something every good vegetarian wants to find.

In short, it’s got things in it that help your body heal and nurture itself. There’s a lot of good nutrition packed into those little seeds! Given its stats, I don’t see it as a side dish to put on the plate, but the centerpiece of the meal. But I can attest that it’s very filling.

Big bowl of quinoa with ingredients separated

My first recipe for quinoa comes from 101 Cookbooks, Delicious Big Bowl.  I used asparagus, walnuts, potatoes, and onions just as the recipe calls for, although it really comes down to whatever you want to throw together.

The recipe’s author presented the big bowl as separate elements, so that’s how I initially created my presentation. I was concerned when I placed all the ingredients into a bowl that my proportions were all wrong. I double-checked the recipe to make sure I didn’t make a mistake because it looked like I had too much quinoa relative to to the other ingredients. Furthermore, although I am fine eating asparagus by itself or potatoes, the idea of digging into a pile of onions or a pile or roasted walnuts wasn’t particular appealing to me.

The recipe author did suggest that it was okay to mix things together, so that’s what I did. Then the ingredients seemed to be in better balance to me, and I didn’t have to worry about having a mouthful of onions. Overall, I really liked the results. The walnuts and the olive oil gave the dish an earthy flavor that I really liked.

Quinoa with ingredients combined

By the time I had prepared everything, I was really hungry, so I took one-fourth of the dish out for lunch, which I estimated as 1.5 servings. From that serving size, I  calculated my calorie and nutrition consumption:

  • 772 calories
  • 44 g fat
  • 86 g carbs
  • 11 g fiber
  • 19 g protein
  • 21 Weight Watcher points

Yikes! That’s a lot for one meal (at 1.5 servings). But it filled me up and I really didn’t want any more food the rest of the day. I continued to eat leftovers for a few days, and then had to freeze the rest because I was leaving town for a business trip. I’ll update this post later to let you know how well it held up to freezing.

If I were to make this again, I think I’d like to add some mushrooms to it. And maybe some type of seasoning to spice it up. And I’ll continue to investigate other ways to prepare quinoa. I definitely think it’s an ingredient that’s handy to use often when a healthy lifestyle is one’s goal.