Creating salads with quinoa is fast, and the taste is versatile enough to go with most vegetables in your frig. Quinoa comes with a list of nutrients, so make a double batch and nibble on it through the week or assemble this Italian Quinoa Bowl on Sunday and jump start your work week lunches.
Quinoa a Complete Protein
My daughter, Maggie, introduced me to quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) a few of years ago. She has been a runner since grade school and even ran in college, so she’s always on the look out for healthy foods. Quinoa is not only a healthy food to add to your diet; it’s considered a “super food” which by definition means ‘a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.’
Quinoa is a complete protein which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. Simply put, amino acids make up a large portion of our cells, muscles, and tissue and one of their functions is giving our cells structure. Amino acids promote healthy tissue growth throughout your body. They support the formation of proteins such as collagen, enzymes, clotting systems, antibodies, muscles, and hormones. This is a notable list!
Protein isn’t the only star in quinoa; the list goes on to include iron, magnesium, Vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. It is a super food!
Quinoa is a Grain
Quinoa is a grain. Not a grain crop like corn, rice, and wheat, but a grain crop that’s produced for its edible seeds. If you’d like to see pictures of this grain, here is the Wikipedia site with details. I love that the availability of this ancient seed continues to grow in the states and we can attribute its popularity to the following reasons:
- The rise in people seeking a Vegetarian and Vegan lifestyles. Quinoa is a plant based protein.
- It’s gluten free and perfect for those with a gluten intolerance.
- It’s a great substitute for carbohydrates. It feels and taste like a grain but comes with high levels of protein instead of starch.
- It is a “superfood” because it’s nutritionally dense and this is a great add on for people trying to eat less meat.
Italian Quinoa Bowl
I titled this recipe Italian Quinoa Bowl because I had Kalamata olives and garbanzo beans on hand and the fresh basil, tomatoes, and cucumbers are fresh from the garden. The picture above shows just how easy it is to assemble any salad built around quinoa. I placed the quinoa in the center of the bowl, added my vegetables and then filled in with the olives and garbanzo beans. The sweet basil was chopped chiffonade style as Jane showed you in her No-Cook Pasta Sauce. I mixed a light vinegarette and would suggest adding it per serving, making it easy for your work week lunches or adding to your dinners throughout the week.
Is Quinoa for You?
Not everyone is a fan of quinoa, and the texture has a lot to do with it. I like to think of it like barley and rice using it in very similar ways. Tom will eat it but is not a huge fan. I will have to gradually get him use to it and hopefully come up with the best way to serve it just for him. You know how it is when you get on a band wagon, and you want everyone else to feel the same way as you do? Well, that’s me.
So, what do you think? Do you eat quinoa and if you do, what’s your favorite way of eating it? Will you give it a try? Does the list of nutrients make you want to add it to your grocery list? Please consider leaving a message in the comment section below.
Thanks for stopping by, Rose
- 2 cups of cooked quinoa. Follow the directions on the package for cooking.
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- ¾ cup sliced red and yellow peppers
- 1 cup sliced or chopped tomatoes. (I sliced my grape tomatoes for this recipe)
- 1 15 oz of garbanzo chick peas
- ½ medium sliced cucumber
- ⅓ cup sliced red onion
- 6 basil leaves sliced chiffonade style
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and diced
- juice of half of lemon
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Place quinoa in the center of the bowl.
- Position your ingredients around the quinoa and feel free to tweak the quantities and ingredients to your liking.
- Toss the salad.
- Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and mix.
- I added the vinaigrette to each portion.
- Enjoy and have fun experimenting with your favorite vegetables!