Finding the “Right” thing to eat these days can be tricky. We’re supposed to watch our sugar, carbs, cholesterol and other ingredients to keep our bodies healthy. Some say stay away from packaged or processed foods, but this is difficult to do when time is limited and so some days we may feel like it’s just too hard to choose foods that are good for us, easy to make, and keep us feeling full. But wait, one of my passions is food. Food that’s delicious, easy, and filling. And today, I have another favorite food to share that may soon become one of your favorites too!

quinoa  It’s called Quinoa. Pronounced (KEEN-wah), Quninoa is actually a seed that was originally produced in the Andes area of South America. It’s very nutritious and you can easily subsitute this for rice or couscous in your meals. Athletes young and old have enjoyed quinoa to provide championship fuel for their training and competitions. And anyone needing a gluten free diet will love quinoa as it is one of the grains that those with celiac disorders can enjoy. Nutritionally, quinoa contains a complete profile of amino acids and also is a good source of protein, magnesium, iron, calcium, B-vitamins, and fiber. Who knew one food could have all these great things? Ready for some ways to fix this delicious food? Ok, you’ll be amazed by this as well. You can have quinoa for breakfast. Mix it with some 100% fruit juice or some sugar free maple syrup and enjoy it for breakfast. Tastes great on a cold morning when you want something filling but don’t want to have another bowl of cold cereal. The protein in this breakfast will keep you satisfied through lunchtime.

Want more ways to fix quinoa? I like to make quinoa for lunch and/or dinner as well. Once it’s cooked I may combine it with some black beans and low fat refried beans, add in some salsa and a bit of guacamole and I have a Mexican feast that’s highly nutritious and delicious. Some other tips: Quinoa is easy to prepare and cooks very fast. Before cooking, place your desired amount of quinoa into a very fine strainer and rinse thoroughly using cold running water. Drain the quinoa and you’re ready to cook. Place your quinoa into a saucepan and add in 2 cups of liquid for each one cup of quinoa. Note: a little goes a long way so don’t make the mistake that I did the first time I fixed this, and think that you need several cups for a meal. Quninoa fluffs up after cooking, so start with a small amount until you see how your first batch turns out. Once you’ve tried it you can always make more!

Alright, so if you’re fixing quinoa for lunch or dinner you can cook it in some low sodium chicken or beef broth, or regular water, whatever your preference. Bring the liquid and quinoa mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and looks like a spiral comes out of each grain. (Generally, takes about 15 minutes to cook. Once it’s done, fluff it up and use it in place of rice so you can add whatever seasonings or accompaniments that you may use with rice, or experiment with other additions. If you like onions, and carrots one of my favorite recipes is to sauté about 2/3 of a white onion in a saucepan, then to this mixture add 2 cups of chopped carrots and cook just for about 2-3 minutes. Add in your chicken broth (if you’re using 1 cup quinoa) you would add 2 cups chicken broth or beef broth, and then one cup quinoa. Boil, then turn down heat, cover, and cook about 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is light and fluffy. Put quinoa in a bowl and toss with 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. I like cilantro so sometimes I’ll subsitute fresh cilantro for the parsley and will add in a few tablespoons of fresh squeezed lime juice. Serve and enjoy!

What do you think? Have any favorite quinoa recipes to share or did you try quinoa after reading our article on foods fit for an Olympic Athlete? Let us know what you think and if you’re working out, see if adding quinoa to your diet doesn’t help you with the ability to workout longer and harder.  It’s helped me breakthrough some mileage barriers with my running program so I’d be interested in hearing how quinoa works for you.