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Healthiest Foods: Quinoa

Mary Murray

   This gluten-free grain is the overachiever of functional foods and a better choice than its carby cousins. "You're getting more fiber, good antioxidants, more protein and better blood-sugar control, so it's a win all around," says Elyse Marrone, a registered dietitian nutritionist and past president of the Palm Beach Dietetic Association.

Benefits

  • Protein: "Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids," says Courtney Burke, a certified nutrition consultant and healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods in Palm Beach Gardens. Protein repairs cells, makes new ones and is vital for growth, especially during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy, according to the National Institutes of Health.
  • Magnesium: One of the amino acids contained in the grain, magnesium builds bones and regulates heartbeat.

Eat it Because

   Every vegetarian has been asked, "But where do you get your protein?" Quinoa has a protein content of 15 percent and also contains fiber and iron, making it ideal for vegetarian diets.

 

Try This: Quinoa-Veggie Collard Wrap, from the Farmer's Table Boca Raton

This wrap mixes two great foods, kale and quinoa, as well as a number of other vegetables. Image by Gyorgy Papp, Papp Photography

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 large collard leaves
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, fluffed
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 2 to 4 ounces Goji vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 2 ounces organic sunflower sprouts
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Blanch large collard green leaves (the larger the better) in boiling, lightly salted water for 15 seconds. Shock in ice bath, then pat dry with paper towels and shave excess stem rib with sharp knife. Keep flat and cold in refrigerator.
  2. Using a mandolin, julienne and then fine brunoise (1/8"x1/8"x1/8") dice vegetables, including outer skins (for both nutrients and colors).
  3. Mix quinoa, vegetables and approximately two ounces Goji vinaigrette. Reserve for later.
  4. In food processor, combine chickpeas, kale, garlic, Tahini sauce, lemon juice and olive oil. Puree to make kale hummus, adding drops of water or chickpea liquid to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Lay collard greens flat out on a work surface. Ideally, you create four 10" rounds. Smear approximately two ounces of kale hummus across and toward the bottom part of collard wrap. Place about 1/2 to 3/4 cup quinoa-vegetable mixture atop the hummus, and about 1/2 cup sprouts atop that.
  6. Starting from the bottom, roll tight like a burrito, folding in edges toward the end. The damp collard green forms a great seal by itself.
  7. Makes four rolls.

Goji Berry Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Goji berries, reconstituted in warm water to cover
  • 1/2 cup sucanat, or organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 peeled shallot
  • 1 cup GMO-free canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. chopped mint
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients, except for canola oil, and puree.
  2. Slowly add oil in steady stream while mixing to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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