In North America, the pomegranate season runs from late summer until early winter, making now the perfect time to start incorporating jewel-like pomegranates into meals and snacks. This dish has just four main ingredients (not including oil, salt and pepper), gets a nutty crunch from the walnuts and a burst of tart juice from the pomegranate that complements the crispy Brussels sprouts perfectly.
Whether you’re looking for a gluten-free pasta, trying to eat more whole grains or experimenting with ancient grains, you can find all kinds of alternative pastas lining market shelves these days. Here’s a quick primer.
Quinoa is a high protein whole grain (technically, it’s a seed) that has become very popular. The grain provides hefty doses of B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium, selenium, iron and zinc. Quinoa pasta has a nutty flavor and a dense consistency. Although quinoa is gluten-free, the pasta can be blended with other flours, including whole wheat flour, so be sure to read labels carefully.
Cooking quinoa (which is considered a whole grain even though it’s actually a seed) is as simple as cooking brown rice, using two parts water to one part quinoa. An important step in the cooking process is to rinse the dry quinoa before cooking to help remove the coating of bitter-tasting saponins. Once cooked, quinoa can be used in a variety of recipes and interchanged with any whole grain. And because quinoa is naturally gluten-free, it is a great pasta substitute for those who cannot tolerate wheat.
There are three kinds of quinoa you’ll find at your grocery store: red, black and white, and all have a slightly nutty flavor and a texture much like couscous. Here are three of my favorite ways to enjoy quinoa.
We’ve all heard of the health benefits of quinoa but I love it because it is so easy to prepare. Like rice, you combine 1 part quinoa with 2 parts cooking liquid, boil, cover, simmer for 10-12 minutes and it’s done. Quinoa is naturally nutty and delicious but I love adding spices to the cooking liquid for even more flavor and nutrition. A mix of curry, cumin, mustard, herbs, seeds and beans makes this recipe a nutrient-packed side dish or meal in itself.
Why are scientists calling quinoa a super grain? Because its a whole grain with a low glycemic index, healthy fats (Omega-3’s and Omega-9’s), and a host of phytonutrients, including flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. It happens to be gluten free, so even those with gluten sensitivities can enjoy it. Quinoa is also a complete protein, and most grains aren’t because they lack one or more of the 9 essential amino acids necessary to make a complete protein. Pretty super, don’t ya think?
Quinoa is the seed of the chenopodium plant and is related to Swiss chard, spinach and beets. Although there are over 120 species, only three main quinoa varieties are cultivated – gold, red and black. Gold is the most common and boasts a firm texture and subtle, nutty flavor. It’s also easy to prepare (ready in just 15 minutes, like rice). Red is slightly bitter and crunchier than gold and black is sweeter and crunchier than red. Quinoa is incredibly versatile, whether you serve it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it can easily become a staple in your home.
Ready to serve up a new, fun summer salad for your Labor Day picnic or BBQ? You can easily add seasonal fruits and vegetables into a grain-based salad for a simple and flavorful dish. By sticking to fresh, whole and natural ingredients, you will be packing in the flavor to this quinoa salad. This dish is as quick as it is flavorful, and with all of the fresh strawberries and sweet honey mixed in, it is so satisfying on the dog days of summer.
Try this salad stuffed into a pita, or serve it on a bed of greens for a light supper. And at the height of bell pepper season, you can use it to fill hollowed-out red bell peppers for an elegant entree. Feel free to play around with this recipe; stepping into your farmers market will give you a whole new perspective of what else you can toss into this dish. No strawberries at the market? No problem. Fresh raspberries or blackberries are a sweet alternative. Not a fan of almonds? Pistachios are a sweeter alternative. If you’re planning on hosting a vegan guest, you can easily substitute agave nectar for the honey. Quinoa is a complete protein and a tasty gluten-free pasta-alternative that can be enjoyed by all.
Quinoa-a-holics have been sprouting all over the nation. If you’re looking for some new, creative quinoa recipes—we’ve got 5 you’ll love!
This Asian-inspired warm quinoa salad is a quick side dish for any weeknight dinner. Wrap leftovers in a whole-wheat tortilla for a high-protein brown-bag lunch.
Recipe: Quinoa, Shiitakes and Snow Peas
Toss out your protein powder! This deliciously healthy breakfast smoothie is made with almonds, quinoa and oats has 9 grams of protein per serving.
Beans + quinoa = a winning combination. Beans are chock full of fiber, B-vitamins, iron, calcium and zinc while quinoa provides protein, B vitamins, potassium and selenium.
Recipe: Bean Salad With Quinoa
Combine quinoa, whole-grain oats, sunflower seeds, pistachios and dried mango with maple syrup and canola oil to make these simple snack clusters.
Hot pepper, adobo seasoning, garlic, and onions dress up this quinoa salad. Leftovers can be added to scrambled eggs or used as a topping for homemade pizza.
Recipe: Yellow Quinoa
We’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers and healthy eating advocates to host a Healthy Every Week Challenge, a month-long initiative to develop healthy eating habits. The plan is to develop a manageable healthy habit each week that will carry through the new year. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #gethealthy.
Quinoa is technically a seed, but is often categorized as a whole grain (it counts for whole grain week of the January Challenge!). This ancient grain made our recent list of 10 Foods that Fill You Up because it’s high in protein (8 grams per serving) and fiber (5 grams per serving). Quinoa is one of my favorite grains because I love its nutty flavor and texture, but also because it cooks quickly (as opposed to wheat, rye and spelt berries, which I love but that take forever to cook).
If you’ve never cooked quinoa before, Giada DeLaurentiis’ Herbed Quinoa is a good basic recipe to start with. It’s a great side dish served with chicken, fish or pork, or add a scoop to mixed greens and a few toasted walnuts for a filling lunch salad.
Do you find yourself hungry 30 minutes after eating? Certain foods can help keep you satisfied so you avoid mindlessly munching throughout the day. Add these 10 filling foods to your daily repertoire.
A bowl of warming oatmeal can help jump-start a cold winter day and keep you satisfied, thanks to all that fiber.
Recipe: Apple Harvest Oatmeal
#2: Cottage Cheese
This underappreciated food has a perfect balance of fat, carbs and protein. You can count on the combo of protein and fat to help fill you up. Top ½ cup of low fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit or granola or use cottage in dip, quick bread, or pancake recipes.
Recipe: Cottage Cheese Biscuits
Pistachios, pecans, almonds, walnuts, or cashews— nuts contain healthy unsaturated fat combined with protein to help keep you satisfied. With an average of 7 calories per nut, a small handful (about an ounce) makes a great snack.
Recipe: Almond Lover Trail Mix
Is your head swirling with all the newest “healthy” products you see on market shelves? I just attended the annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo in San Diego, California where I was able to check out several hot new items. Here are my top 7 tasty finds.
1. Lite Pom
Who doesn’t love the goodness of pomegranate juice? But many folks find juice in general to be overly sweet with too much sugar. Pom Light contains 75 calories per 8 fluid-ounce serving and 18 grams of sugar. That’s 50 percent fewer calories and almost half as much sugar than the regular version of Pom juice. Yes, light juices exist but Pom cuts down on the sugar by mixing it with water. Sound crazy? Think about this: Many folks who find juice too sweet or they want to cut down on calories mix juice with water at home. And since you’re getting less juice, the cost is cheaper too. Pom Light comes in really fun flavors like dragonfruit, black currant, blackberry, and pomegranate (the dragonfruit was particularly tasty).