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Quinoa Instead of Rice? This Incas Super Food Packs A Big, Healthy Punch!

Quinoa Bean Chili

We know.  The very thought of never eating arroz amarillo again is devastating. But trading some of our traditions for something that is way more healthy (and is also a Latino tradition) is so worth it.

Here’s the cold, hard truth: White rice, even though its colored with saffron to make it yellow and is a good source of magnesium, is stripped of all its fiber, which is its core nutritional value.  And without the fiber, white rice by itself becomes a detriment to anyone suffering from diabetes, obesity or if you have inflammation.

But the ancient grain Quinoa, discovered by the Incas and used heavily in Peru, is just the opposite. First off, you can use it the same ways you use rice—but it is slightly crunchy and has a mild, nutty flavor that’s a pleasant addition to any dish.  It has more fiber than all other grains and as a result, it helps to eliminate constipation, while lowering cholesterol and glucose levels. And because fiber helps to fill you up more, it helps to prevent you from over eating.

Then there is the fact that it contains all of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need for optimum health. Plus Quinoa has iron (which helps red blood cells remain healthy), manganese (antioxidant), magnesium (helps to eliminate migraines), phosphorus and copper, Riboflavin (B2) (improves metabolism), lysine (for tissue repair and growth) and zinc (boosts immune system). This is primarily because Quinoa, though it is a seed, comes from the green, leafy vegetable family.

And the best part? It cooks in about 15 minutes. First wash the seeds thoroughly, if you buy them raw. They have a bitter coating that needs to be removed before cooking. Packaged Quinoa, however, already come rinsed, but soak and wash them again to be on the safe side. Then cook as you normally would and eat. You’ll know it’s done when the seeds pop and the white curly grains pops out, like a corn kernel. Here’s a quick and easy chili recipe made with quinoa that packs a big, healthy punch.

Quinoa-Bean Chili

Ingredients & Method

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 (19 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook and stir 1 minute to release the flavors. Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno pepper, chipotle pepper, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, stir in the reserved quinoa and corn. Cook to reheat the corn for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cilantro to serve.

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