Today I want to share one of my favorite salad recipes with you — it’s perfect for spring and it delivers a powerful, nutritious punch.
The magic of this salad comes from an ancient seed that you’ve likely heard of before… quinoa!
Quinoa is not only jam-packed with health benefits, but also has a rich history as a life-giving seed — believed by the Incas to be delivered from the heavens by a sacred bird.
6,000 years ago, the Incas of the Andes Mountains (historically one of the most powerful civilizations of the Americas) depended upon this “mother grain,” or chisaya mama, as their primary food source — the linchpin of their entire society and their connection to the gods.
Quinoa had a multitude of uses for the Incas. Beyond its culinary status as a protein-packed plant food for hungry warriors, it was employed as a compress for bruises, a diuretic, and to treat liver and urinary tract problems, tuberculosis, appendicitis, and altitude and motion sickness.
Today, quinoa continues to prove its worth as a top superfood thanks to its health-boosting goodness.
A Bevy of Benefits
Quinoa is definitely something you want to add into your diet if you haven’t already. It offers an especially generous dose of the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. And significant amounts of magnesium and riboflavin make quinoa particularly valuable to sufferers of migraines and atherosclerosis, as they help relax blood vessels and improve energy production within cells.
Though we often consider it an ancient grain, quinoa isn’t really a grain at all. It’s actually a seed, offering an extremely nutritious balance of protein, heart-healthy fats, oil, and starch. It’s also a great source of fiber, iron, phosphorus, B vitamins, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants!
The benefits don’t stop there. Amazingly, quinoa holds all nine essential amino acids in adequate proportions. Its high protein content (averaging about 16%, but reaching levels as high as 23% — more than twice the level found in common grain cereals) makes it one of the few vegetarian foodstuffs considered to be a complete protein and pleasantly satiating at that!
And, as if all that weren’t enough, quinoa was dubbed a “super crop” by The United Nations because they believe it could go a long way in remedying world hunger. Because it’s a low maintenance crop, it’s a useful tool in promoting increased food security and encourages greater diversity in agricultural systems.
Let’s recap: quinoa boasts myriad health benefits for you — including a healthy dose of 9 essential amino acids, puts a dent in solving world hunger, and encourages soil diversity…
So what do you say? Are you ready to get your hands on some quinoa today?
How to Eat Quinoa
Quinoa is quite tasty served warm as hot cereal, or cold for an added crunch on salads, and can even be brewed into beer or ground into flour for baked goods. Consider adding it to a sandwich or wrap, blending it into a smoothie or dip, or using it as a garnish on soup! The possibilities are endless.
I recently stumbled upon this delicious recipe, and now I’m hooked on it! You should definitely give it a try.
Inca Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa, sprouted and thoroughly rinsed (Inca Red if you can find it)
- 1 cup vegetable or bone broth + 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup organic olive oil
- ½ yellow or white onion, finely diced
- 1 small organic red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 small organic green bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 small jalapeño, finely chopped
- 1 organic tomato, diced
- 4oz sliced black olives, drained
- 1 organic jícama, peeled & chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro and/or chives, chopped
- 1 organic lemon, juice only, ¼ cup
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa with broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered for 10 minutes, until all broth is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit covered for 5 more minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, tomato, olives, cilantro/chives and jícama, sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add cooked quinoa to the vegetable mix; cook over medium heat, stirring often, until just warmed through.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, coriander, and cumin. Add the quinoa mix and toss it all with the dressing. Fold in the jalapeño and parsley, with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Garnish with avocado wedges; enjoy!
And, for added health benefits, consider sprouting your quinoa before consuming it. Sprouting quinoa decreases the level of phytic acid — an enzyme inhibitor that can block proper absorption of all those vitamins and minerals that quinoa has to offer you!
I haven’t seen sprouted quinoa available in my grocery, but below are some simple steps for how you can sprout at home:
- Buy organic quinoa seeds; rinse them thoroughly
- Measure 1/2 cup of seeds
- Place the washed seeds in a Mason jar
- Add 2 cups of filtered water to the jar
- Place a cheesecloth/muslin cloth over the top of the Mason jar
- Fix the cloth in place with a strong elastic band or the jar lid without the top
- Let seeds soak, store in a place with minimum or no direct sunlight
- Rinse twice a day until sprouted
- Dry sprouts and use raw or cooked in recipes! Relish the benefits! Or store in sealed glass containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week
Are you ready to reap all the benefits that quinoa has to offer?
Host of Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science
& Founder of The Sacred Science