Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quinoa Bolognese

What is Quinoa?

My friend Kiley first introduced me to this foreign word back in probably 2011. Her mom, Ann, was visiting for the week and when I ventured three doors down to her condo, the two of them were elbows deep in this amazing, fresh quinoa dish. I asked what they were making and they both said "keenwah!". I was like -- what the heck is that? I tried it and loved it.

So in case you couldn't tell from my recipes, I tend to cook mostly Italian food. With that, comes tons of carbs and sugars which tend to make you lethargic and tired. Well this recipe won't do that. I haven't made much quinoa in a while, so I figured I would combine my fav bolognese sauce with quinoa instead of pasta.

Many people find quinoa to be bland, but I feel as long as you add your favorite foods and sauces, you will be a quinoa-lover in no time. It's great for A and B! For those who are unfamiliar with the benefits of quinoa, here are 7 reasons why you should be cooking and eating with quinoa as much as possible (and it's gluten free!):

1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.
 
2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fiber is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and may help you to lose weight as it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food.
 
3. Quinoa contains Iron. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron some more of which include neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.
 
4. Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.
 
5. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.
 
6. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.
 
7. Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.
 
Here is what I made this afternoon for a late lunch. I started out with a homemade bolognese sauce which consisted of tomato sauce, fresh diced tomatoes, fresh basil, onion and red pepper...then I added some ground beef (most of these ingredients were leftover from pizza night!
 

 
While the sauce was cooking, I started boiling my water to get the quinoa going, too.

 
To cook the whole grain quinoa, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of quinoa and bring back to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover, letting it simmer for about 12-14 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then fluff with a fork.


Here are all the goodies cooking....oh, and someone must have made some brownies over there on the left! :)

 
After it finished cooking, I added some of the sauce to the quinoa so it absorbed the flavors while it cooled and sat for a bit. I also added some fresh basil and fresh diced tomatoes.

 
After cooking for about 2-3 hours, the sauce is just about done!

 
I spooned about 4 tablespoons of the quinoa into my bowl, and covered it with tons of sauce, tomatoes and ground beef. I sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. You can also add a little cheese if your heart desires.

 
This hit the spot! I was super hungry, so I had seconds. :) Enjoy!
 
xo,
Shaz