Quinoa: Yogi Superfood

At Shades of Yoga, we refrain from recommending particular diets.  We focus instead on giving our students an understanding of their own bodies and some guiding principles that can support them in making choices that align with their yoga practice and lifestyle.

For many students who choose the path of being vegan or vegetarian, it’s vital that they have an understanding of how to provide their bodies with the protein necessary to sustain an active yoga practice.

In the world of vegetarian foods, Quinoa stands out as one of the “superfoods”, not only because it’s so simple and easy to prepare and can lend itself to a range of delicious dishes both savory and sweet, but because of it’s unique nutritional profile.

QuinoaQuinoa was revered as a sacred food among the Incas of Bolivia and Peru who called it the “mother food”. Although commonly regarded as a grain it is in fact a seed.  It is one of the only foods in the vegetable kingdom that has all of the amino acids to make it a complete protein. It is also high in calcium and iron, B vitamins and vitamin E.  It is an excellent source of fiber, keeping the intestines healthy and controlling blood sugar. It is gluten free, making it an excellent choice for those with gluten sensitivity.

Quinoa ranges in color from ivory, brown, red to black, depending on the variety. The most common varieties used are the ivory and red and they’re often sold as a blend of colors.  It cooks up in 15 minutes and can be added to soups, stews or casseroles, combined with veggies to make salads or served along with legumes and veggies as part of a balanced meal.  The seeds can be sprouted to eat raw in salads.

It is no wonder that The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”

Here is a simple and delicious Quinoa Salad that can be enjoyed at any time of day.

Quinoa Tabouleh

1 cup quinoa,
Big pinch sea salt
Handful green beans
2 tomatoes – small diced
about 10 pitted black olives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 – 2 Tbs.  extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice (to taste)
Sea salt, black pepper

Rinse quinoa thoroughly and drain in a sieve.  Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt or vegetable salt. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid.

Meanwhile, cook the beans in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, or until tender but still bright green. Drain and plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process. Cut into small pieces.

Transfer the cooked quinoa to a mixing bowl and add the beans, chopped tomato, olives, mint and parsley. Drizzle with the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper and mix well.

Shades of Yoga is a yoga teacher training company running year-round yoga teacher training courses in Bali and Costa Rica. Details here.