Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa

Today's post will feature a truly Great Grain: Quinoa. Quinoa is gluten free and a great, complete source of protein. For every 100 calories of quinoa, you get 2g fiber and 4g of protein. It's also a good source of manganese and folate. However, it's the amino acid composition of that protein that makes this grain shine. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. Of the 21 naturally occurring amino acids, 9 are essential, meaning that our body isn't able to make them and if we don't get them through dietary sources, our body isn't able to make the proteins that incorporate them. For example: lysine is an essential amino acid and without it, we wouldn't be able to synthesize collagen with crosslinks. Without those crosslinks, we wouldn't have muscle and connective tissue! So making sure that you eat enough of all 9 essential amino acids is a crucial part of health and performance.

This recipe is a surprising favorite which combines sweet and savory for a dish that's just as good as the main even or on the side. With quinoa's complete protein, no additional protein is really necessary, but I threw in the walnuts for an additional boost and for the omega-3 fatty acids. Cranberries and cinnamon round out the festive fall flavor.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa

1c red quinoa
2c water
1/3c walnuts
1/3c dried cranberries
cinnamon and garlic to taste

Rinse the quinoa (some people, myself included, have a reaction to one of the proteins on the shell of the quinoa so it should be rinsed off). Add the water and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the water is absorbed, remove from heat. Add cranberries, walnuts, garlic, and cinnamon to taste. Enjoy!

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