And though we've already told you how kale's a little overhyped (there are 10 Greens Healthier Than Kale), quinoa earns its buzz. Its amped-up nutrition profile is leaving go-to grains like brown rice in the dust.
Quinoa is the only grain that’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, says Jackie Newgent, R.D., author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes. Packed with the hunger-busting combo of 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in just one cooked cup, it’s an ideal protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
Even better: It's a versatile ingredient. You can work it into a range of recipes so you don't feel confined to the same healthy dish week after week. Here are seven delicious ways to do it:
Try a Waldorf- Inspired Salad
For a filling salad that’s healthier than mayo-based sides, try this. In a bowl, mix diced apples, finely chopped celery and cooled quinoa. Make a dressing in a separate bowl using plain Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, lime juice, horseradish, salt and pepper. Whisk together. Combine all ingredients and enjoy.
Substitute for Rice
Brown rice? Ditch it. Replacing it with quinoa in your favorite weeknight meals gives you an extra boost of protein and brightens up a familiar recipe. Toss quinoa into a stir-fry, add it to chili, or use it to bulk up a bowl of soup.
Enjoy as a Hot Cereal
We're huge fans of oatmeal, but we're all for replacing your morning bowl with a hot cereal made out of quinoa instead. Add plenty of warm baking spices when cooking for plenty of low-cal flavor. You can even add unsweetened almond or coconut milk to make it creamier. Spoon into a bowl and top with fresh berries.
Make an Easy Dip
It's not exactly shocking that chips and dip doesn't get you that far toward your daily protein needs. Why is that a concern? Protein helps your snacks actually satisfy you so that you don't polish off the whole chip bag. The next time you’ve got the game on, try this trick: Add cooked quinoa to your favorite salsa or guacamole and stir.
Use in Place of Protein Powder
Don't suffer through your after-workout shake like it's a bad dose of medicine! Skip the chalky protein powder in favor of ground quinoa. You'll get a boost of all-natural, real-food protein.
Make Your Own Veggie Burger
Tired of patties from the freezer section? Make your own! Mash black beans in a bowl until chunky. Add cooked red quinoa, finely chopped mushrooms and onions, sundried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce for a flavorful homemade alternative. Sprinkle the mix with salt and pepper and cook on a nonstick pan until lightly browned and heated through. You can top your finished burgers with sliced avocado or cheese and serve it on a whole-grain bun. Feeling extra healthy? Swap the bun for a big piece of lettuce or a bed of salad greens.
Whip Up a Simple Salad
Grilled chicken and veggies may be healthy, but it isn't a completely rounded meal. Add this on the side: Drizzle cooked quinoa with olive oil, combine with your favorite herbs and serve. Boost flavor even more by cooking quinoa in low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
Courtesy of Men's Fitness