Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Keen on Quinoa

If someone had asked me to describe "quinoa" before I had become a Nutrition major, I would have stared at him blankly. These days, however, I shamelessly confess to the thrill of learning about new, unusual foods. Textured soy protein? I'll tell you all about it. Mochi? I could write a book. Injera? Pull up a chair.

For those of you, like myself, who had no idea what quinoa was until recently or now (and for those of you who did, you can just grin and skip below), here is the low-down.

Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") is a "pseudocereal" with edible seeds that is grown in the Andes mountains region of South America. The seeds contain every essential amino acid
(amino acids that must be obtained through diet) making it a complete protein. Quinoa is also high in iron, magnesium and phosphorous and is a good source of fiber.
Basically, this stuff rocks.

Quinoa can be treated similarly to rice in cooking. I like to mix mine
with sauteed veggies, but you could also do a quinoa pilaf, serve it for breakfast with berries, or even use quinoa flour (gluten-free) in baked goods.

Quinoa Fun Fact: Brainiacs are considering quinoa as a food for the Controlled Ecological Life Support System in space! Looks like quinoa stir-fry is on the menu at that space station resort we will visit one day.

Pumpkin Pesto Quinoa

I pulled together some odds and ends and made this for lunch the other day. It turned out surprisingly awesome-- good enough that I want to share it :)

1/4 cup dry quinoa
1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
dash of sage
parmesan cheese is optional

Heating the pureed pumpkin and pesto together.
I promise I wasn't making baby food.

Adding the mixture to my cooked quinoa along
with the toasted walnuts and a sprinkling of sage
(you could add parmesan here, too).

All mixed up.

So it's not the prettiest dish in the world...

...but I still enjoyed it.

Any you will, too!

Pumpkin Pesto Quinoa Nutrition:
530 calories, 78 g carbohydrate, 17 g fiber, 23 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 11 g protein, cholesterol <5mg, 415 mg sodium


  1. Haha, oh how I love quinoa:) I will have to try this recipe out with my pumpkin pesto. Glad it turned out good!

  2. I've never had quinoa before, but I love saying the name! I definitely need to give it a try soon.

  3. These sound so delicious! I've never even heard of pumpkin pesto, but I'll have to check it out!!

  4. The pumpkin pesto quinoa is something new to me. We don't get quinoa in India. I am living in Hong Kong now, I think we'll get this here. The dish sounds very nutritious. Thanks for following my blog.