Quinoa is incredibly popular for many reasons; it’s tasty, versatile and delivers a wide range of beneficial nutrients. The original recipe can be found here and is absolutely delicious! It also freezes very well, if you don’t gobble it up right away.
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 package of lean ground turkey
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp water
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Heat olive oil in a pan and add chopped onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until tender.
- Add the garlic to the onions and cook for another minute.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, cooled quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, egg, salt and pepper.
- Place on greased baking sheet and form into a loaf shape.
- In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and water together.
- Cover the loaf with this paste.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes and then let cook for 10 minutes before serving.
Quinoa is often referred to as a super grain because of its enormous nutritional value, but in truth it is not a grain at all. It is actually the edible seed from the fruit of a flowering plant (Mastebroek, et al., 2000). Consumption of quinoa has become increasingly popular in recent days, however, many are unaware that it has been a staple food for thousands of years. The Inca of the Andes cultivated quinoa and it was said to give their warriors power and stamina (Repo-Carrasco et al., 2003). This pseudocereal comes in multiple varieties which was an important trait to these ancient peoples because it allowed them to grow a highly nutritious plant in vastly different climates, altitudes and soil types (Jancurova, et al., 2009). One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8.14 g of protein, 5.2 g of dietary fibre contributable amounts of healthy fatty acids and zero cholesterol. These nutritional traits in combination with a high complex carbohydrate content cause quinoa to have a low glycemic index value (Jenkins, et al., 2008). The relatively high volume of fibre and protein has also been shown to aid with cholesterol reduction and improved blood sugar regulation (Repo-Carrasco et al., 2003). Furthermore, within that one cup of quinoa there are notable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and vitamins A, B and E (USDA, 2012). Notably, quinoa’s calcium concentration is double that of most other grains and its high protein concentration further improves the absorption of this vital bone mineral (Polsi, 2011). In addition to quinoa supporting your skeletal system, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have noted cardiovascular and digestive benefits (Pasko, et al., 2009). Overall, this seed contains a winning blend of nutrients and essential amino acids that most typical grains cannot compete with (Jancurova, et al., 2009). Interestingly, the upcoming year has been officially proclaimed “The international year of the quinoa” by The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2012). So get ready for 2013 by enjoying more quinoa in your diet.
Yum, sweet potatoes! This vegetable can be prepared in a variety of ways and tastes delicious with savoury spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. This side dish is very easy to make and adds a beautiful splash of orange to your dinner plate.
- 2 sweet potatoes
- ½ tsp olive oil
- ¼ red onion
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 ½ tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 1/3 cup cilantro
- 1 avocado
- Salt & pepper
- Wash sweet potatoes very well with water. Cut into small chunks.
- Steam sweet potato until tender, approximately 15 minutes.
- Mash sweet potatoes in a bowl and add yogurt and sour cream.
- In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add chopped onion and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Cut tomatoes in half and add to the pan, cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the sautéed mix, chopped avocado and cilantro to the sweet potatoes and mix.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Botanically, the sweet potato is very different from the yam. However, many North Americans still refer to it by this erroneous name. The sweet potato is native to Central and South America and has been depicted in Peruvian imagery dating back thousands of years. This vegetable is available year round and can be found in many different colours such as pink, yellow, green and purple (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007). The purple sweet potato contains a pigment called anthocyanin which is under investigation for its antioxidant properties (Kano, et al., 2005). In animal models, anthocyanin has been shown to prevent the activation of key inflammation processes after consumption which reduced inflammation of brain and nervous tissues (Wang, et al., 2010). The orange variety of this tuber has a highly bioavailable concentration of the carotenoid pigment beta-carotene. Oodles of research have shown that beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A which is eminent for both cardiovascular and eye health (Bobroff, 2011). This vegetable’s pigments are only one of the many ways it aids with the reduction of unwanted inflammation. A study by Ludvik et al. (2008) examined the effects of sweet potato extracts given to people with Type 2 diabetes and found that it helped to decrease plasma levels of fibrinogen and improve insulin sensitivity. Although fibrinogen is naturally found in the blood and is crucial for blood clotting, high concentrations can lead to unwanted inflammation and deterioration of the myelin sheaths that surround nerves. In addition to this vegetables anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties it contains a wonderful expanse of minerals and vitamins such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and vitamins A, B, C and K. It is also a great source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber (USDA, 2012). Interestingly, the sweet potato is a key component of the well-known Okinawa diet. This tremendously healthy way of eating, observed in the southernmost parts of Japan, is linked with reduced risks of diabetes, obesity and several age-related diseases (Willcox, et al., 2009). So perhaps this unknowingly healthy tuber may be one of the secrets to a long and healthy life!
With the temperatures starting to plummet, there is no better time to make a large pot of chili full of healthy and colourful vegetables! This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s Chili Con Carne (Jamie’s Food Revolution), with a few modifications of my own. It is super quick to prepare and makes for a hearty lunch for the rest of the week.
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 13 baby carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 large sweet potato
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Salt & pepper
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can white kidney beans
- 1 can (28 fl oz) whole tomatoes (low sodium)
- 2 cilantro stalks
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Garnishes: fresh guacamole, plain yogurt, cilantro and a wedge of lime
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
- Add to the pot all roughly chopped vegetables; onion, garlic, carrots, celery, red pepper, yellow pepper and sweet potato.
- Add the paprika, cayenne powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir so that all vegetables are evenly coated with the spices.
- Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
- Drain and wash the chickpeas and kidney beans. Add to the pot.
- Squash the tomatoes with a potato masher, or your clean hands and add entirety of the can to the pot. As well, fill the can ¾ of the way with water and add to the pot.
- Thoroughly clean the stalks of cilantro and chop into small pieces. Add the stems to the pot and reserve the leaves for garnish.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and stir thoroughly.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer on low with the lid slightly askew for 1 hour.
- Stir every so often.
- Salt & pepper to taste and serve by itself or on a bed of your favourite rice.
- Garnish with fresh guacamole, plain yogurt, cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.
Chickpeas are referred to by many different names depending on where you reside; Garbanzo beans, Bengal grams and Egyptian peas to name a few. This legume is one of the earliest cultivated foods, originally farmed in the Mediterranean Basin (Saxena, 1990). Presently, it continues to be an important food in the Middle East and is favoured because of its buttery texture, nutty taste and year round availability. Chickpeas are a great food for weight loss or management because of their high fiber and protein content paired with their low fat concentration. This winning combination allows you to feel full longer while also aiding with blood sugar regulation (Balanza, et al., 2010). Chickpeas contain no cholesterol and have actually been shown to improve cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL cholesterol (Bazzano, 2008). A study by Pittaway et al., (2006) followed participants for five weeks who were randomized to either a fibrous diet supplemented with chickpeas or wheat. Comparatively the group ingesting the chickpea supplemented diet had a significant reduction in both serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, the association between increased legumes, specifically chickpeas, in the diet and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease is very strong (Leterme, 2002) and warrants further research. This vegetable’s amazing nutritional content includes important minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc. As well, chickpeas are great sources of healthy fatty acids and vitamins A, B, C, E and K (USDA, 2012). Best of all, it is easy to incorporate chickpeas into your diet since they can be found in a wide variety of recipes such as soups, salads and curries. Additionally, if you have intolerance to gluten there is high protein chickpea flour, referred to as garam, which can be used as a wheat flour substitute in many recipes. So just remember that no matter what you call this universally tasty and versatile legume it comes packed with a multitude of health benefits.
Roasted vegetables are always delicious, easy to prepare and excellent as a side dish. This recipe only takes a couple of minutes to whip up and the cauliflower can roast while you make the rest of the meal.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp garam masala
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1 sweet white onion
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Using a mortar and pestle combine the coriander seeds, cumin, garam masala, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and freshly ground black pepper.
- In a mixing bowl, add the spice mix to the olive oil.
- Cut cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and chop the onion.
- Add the vegetables to the mixing bowl and stir until everything is thoroughly coated.
- Spread onto a baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then stir and continue cooking for 10 minutes more.
- Salt to taste.
It’s unusual to hear people include cauliflower in a conversation about highly nutritious vegetables. In actuality, this cruciferous vegetable, which is a relative to Brussels sprouts and broccoli, is loaded with nutrients (Branca, 2008). Cauliflower contains notable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and vitamins B, C and K. Surprisingly, 100 g of raw cauliflower contains nearly the same amount of vitamin C as an equivalent amount of orange (USDA, 2012). Furthermore, this vegetable is low in fat, high in dietary fiber and has trace amounts of healthy fatty acids. All of these factors deem cauliflower to be an excellent choice for weight loss or maintenance, and optimum digestion. Cauliflower is also known to contain glucosinolates which are highly studied for their possible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (Cabello-Hurtado et al., 2012). These important properties decrease the chances of prevalent health problems such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Additionally, these organic compounds improve digestion and decrease the risk of gastrointestinal ailments caused by inflammation (Abul-Fadl, 2012). The stomach and intestines contain naturally occurring bacteria; some are beneficial while others are not. The glucosinolates in cauliflower are broken down into compounds known as isothiocyanate, which directly assist in elimination of bad bacteria from the gastric system (Keenan et al., 2010). So next time you are discussing healthy foods and the importance of ingesting all colours of fruits and vegetables, consider telling people about this white plant. After all, cauliflower is only white in colour because of the large green leaves that protect the undeveloped flowering buds from sunlight which inhibit the development of chlorophyll (Murray et al., 2005).