Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Quinoa: A Nutritious & Easy Way to Add Staying Power to Your Training Diet

This week, enjoy a guest blog from one of my fellow sports dietitians, Kim Schwabenbauer, RD, LDN. Kim is a Registered Dietitian, USA Triathlon Coach, Professional Triathlete, Speaker, and Model. She is the founder of Fuel Your Passion, LLC. Check out Kim's website and blog, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

Be Extrarordinary,

It’s a one of those words that until you hear it pronounced (and maybe even after) sounds a bit like you are speaking a foreign language. Trust me, as an athlete and a dietitian, this word is one you should get to know! Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a food that has so many benefits that you’ll want to include it in your every-day training diet without hesitation.  It is an ancient Peruvian seed with a mild nutty flavor that packs a powerful nutrition punch!

Just a few of the reasons to add it to your list of healthy quick go to meals is because it’s a complex carbohydrate that offers a full spectrum of amino acids.  While most grains are incomplete sources of amino acids (meaning they must be either eaten with other foods such as beans or legumes or served up with a protein source), quinoa is considered a complete protein and can stand alone.  Quinoa also contains considerable amounts of the amino acid lysine which is important for tissue growth and repair after resistance and endurance exercise (aka what we do every day as athletes!).  It is also a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium and calcium. 

For those athletes who have a gluten sensitivity or gluten allergy (Celiac Disease), Quinoa is a great alternative to regular pasta and is gluten-free.   Finally, Quinoa is an excellent source of dietary fiber which is important for regulating blood sugar spikes and digestive health. 

A 6-ounce serving of quinoa contains 132 calories, 23 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of unsaturated fat.

One of my favorite recipes utilizing this nutrient gem is from entitled Quinoa & Black Beans.  You can even watch a video available on their site on how to make this wonderful dish.  I make a batch at the beginning of the week and heat it up again and again when I’m pressed for time and it’s even better the second and third day!

Take a chance on this delicious grain by trying this recipe below.

Quinoa and Black Beans

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 35 mins

Ready In: 50 mins


·         1 teaspoon vegetable oil

·         1 onion, chopped

·         3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

·         3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

·         1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

·         1 teaspoon ground cumin

·         1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

·         salt and pepper to taste

·         1 cup frozen corn kernels

·         2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

·         1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1.      Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.

2.      Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,

3.      Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 153 | Total Fat: 1.7g | Cholesterol: 0mg

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