Since its “rediscovery” by American entrepreneurs in the 1980s, this ancient seed has been causing quite a stir in the Western nutrition world—and for good reason. One cup of quinoa not only delivers all 9 essential amino acids (making it a complete protein, like meat), but it also contains antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and a great deal of fiber (unlike meat). Although typically classified as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed, a close relative of green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.
Harvested in the Andean mountain region for thousands of years, it has been said that quinoa was once dubbed “the gold of the Incas.” For this ancient civilization, quinoa was a sacred food, prized for increasing the stamina of warriors.
As a complex carbohydrate, quinoa provides the body with long-lasting energy during digestion. It combines perfectly with vegetable-based dishes. As someone who generally follows a vegan diet, I’ve found that including quinoa with my meals (especially my salads) keeps me well satiated. Since making quinoa a mainstay in my diet, I no longer experience that feeling of persistent hunger, nor feel compelled to snack throughout the day.
Vegetable broth and spices like turmeric, curry, and cumin make all the difference when it comes to preparing quinoa. I typically pair it with salads or make a variation of My Simple Avocado Salad (below). However, I’ve seen recipes for hearty quinoa porridges, quinoa stuffed bell peppers, and even quinoa cookies!
My Simple Avocado & Quinoa Salad
- 2 cups of vegetable broth
- 1 cup of quinoa *
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon curry
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 large ripe avocado, cubed
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced
- 1 large tomato, diced (sometimes I use several cherry tomatoes)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add quinoa to boiling water and lower flame to a simmer. Cover quinoa and let cook on low flame for approximately 15 minutes. Add turmeric, curry, and cumin to quinoa. Cover and let cook for an additional 5 minutes or until water is fully absorbed. Let cool.
Add avocado, bell pepper, cucumber, celery, and tomato to quinoa. Toss gently to mix. Sprinkle juice from half of lemon on top of mixture. Chill until ready to serve.