Monday, March 30, 2009

Quinoa Soup, Miracle Food?

If you know me, and know my blog, I do love my sweet stuff, but I’m also a bit of a health stickler. I love a meal full of color that packs a healthy punch. I found this soup recipe that seemed simple and healthy. After looking at too many combinations of sugar, flour, & butter lately (preparing for a bridal shower), I wanted to look at and taste FOOD, glorious food!

Before I share the recipe with you, let me tell you all the wonders of quinoa. Pronounced KEEN-WAH, quinoa is natively South American and often compared to grains, as it is similar to them, but it’s actually a seed closely related to spinach & swiss chard. When cooked it becomes fluffy with a soft crunch. It’s a “supergrain” because it’s high in protein; and is a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks for muscles). Besides providing all nine amino acids, it also provides enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, making it one of the most complete foods in nature. It’s gluten-free; acts as a prebiotic that feeds the microflora (good bacteria) in your intestines; a great source of fiber and is easily digested for optimal absorption of nutrients. Also, if you are prone to migraines, try adding quinoa to your diet. Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels, preventing the constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines. Increased intake of magnesium has been shown to be related to a reduced frequency of headache episodes reported by migraine sufferers. Quinoa is also a good source of riboflavin, which is necessary for proper energy production within cells. Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2) has been shown to help reduce the frequency of attacks in migraine sufferers, most likely by improving the energy metabolism within their brain and muscle cells. (Sources: WHFoods, BodyEcology)

Now, do you see why I said it’s a miracle food? With all these health benefits, one might assume something so good for you won’t taste good. But quite the opposite! I really enjoy the taste & texture of quinoa. I look forward to cooking with it more often. For some reason my “soup” was not very soupy. Almost every bit of the liquid got absorbed! Also, I adapted this recipe a bit. I saw that it called for corn, but I wanted to sub hominy. I really like the taste & texture of hominy in soups, and I also added in some black beans, because I had them on hand and thought they would taste good in it. Also I used 2/3 cup salsa, instead of 1/3. This recipe came from quite a chain of sources. I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so here goes:


Quinoa Soup with Avocado & Hominy

adapted from It's All Happening, as seen on Cheap Healthy Good, as seen on The Seattle Times, originally from the cookbook Whole Grains for Busy People


4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa
1 cup hominy (or corn)
2/3 cup chunky salsa, to taste
1 ripe but firm Hass avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (not a fan, omitted)
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)


In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium-high, and continue boiling, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the corn and salsa, then return to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the avocado. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro. Ladle into large bowls, accompanied with lime wedges.

You can easily reheat the leftovers, but I also enjoyed it cold one night/morning when leaving work at 2:30am.

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