Wednesday, April 20, 2011

GRAINularity: Passover style…

Passover certainly can be a shock to your digestive system. Matzo starts to take a toll on you after a while…if you know what I mean. Finding fiber can be difficult especially if you are used to eating whole grains. Did you know that there actually is a grain you can eat on Passover? It’s called quinoa and it’s delicious!

Why have you done a good thing?

Quinoa is a protein-rich, vitamin/mineral and fiber filled grain, well technically a seed, which is why it is kosher for Passover (no matter what the NY Times says). With 5 g of fiber per ½ cup, quinoa is sure to help you out this week… Quinoa is also a great source of magnesium, which has been shown to protect against heart disease and reduce frequency of migraine headaches as it helps relax blood vessels. Quinoa contains iron, which is important for development of healthy red blood cells. Quinoa pureed is great for infants past the age of 6 months as this is when iron stores from pregnancy are depleted. Quinoa also has a healthy dose of manganese and copper, both antioxidants that prevent against oxidative damage. Quinoa also has phosphorus, which is important for bone health. Best of all, quinoa is a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids needed for the human body, making quinoa great for vegans and vegetarians. This grain is also naturally gluten-free making quinoa a nice addition for celiac patients and those who are gluten intolerant.

Where can you find quinoa?

Quinoa is now sold in most major grocery stores, possibly in the natural or organic food section. It comes in a variety of colors including white, red, purple, or green. You can also find quinoa flours, quinoa based pastas and cereals!

Here’s a great side dish to serve up at your sedar or to help get you through the week:

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (Serves 6) (Click here for a downloadable version of the recipe, plus a grocery list!)

3 peppers (red, orange or yellow)

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of low-sodium chicken stock

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Halve peppers lengthwise keeping the stems intact and seed. Steam pepper halves over boiling water until softened (about 8-10 minutes). Set aside.

Heat stock in a saucepan until simmering. In the meantime, in a separate pan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. When stock is ready add quinoa and cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until soft and fluffy. When quinoa is done, mix in onion and garlic mixture, chopped walnuts, salt and pepper, and parsley. Spoon into peppers and serve!

**Taking to work? Instead chop and sauté peppers with onions and garlic and mix into quinoa! When it’s not Passover, add in some chickpeas for a great dose of protein!

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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