If you are at all like me, you are asking “What in the world is Quinoa?” (Pronounced “keen-wah.”)  Well, I’m glad you asked because quinoa is an amazing grain-like plant grown primarily for it’s edible seeds.  I say grain-like because unlike a true grain it is not a member of the grass family, but rather it is more closely related to plants like beets or spinach.  Quinoa is actually a rediscovered ancient grain that was sometimes referred to as the “gold of the Inca.”

So big deal, right?  Why do I care about this ancient pseudocereal?  Well the biggest reason to care about quinoa is that, unlike most grain, it is absolutely packed with nutrients.  One of the main reasons that quinoa is a big deal is that it is a complete protein, which means it provides all nine essential amino acids.  And for those of us working out on a regular basis, we know just how important protein in our diet is, especially the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.  It’s not just protein that makes quinoa so great, either; it is packed with tons of nutrients including but not limited to: carbohydrates, dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fats, thiamine, vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and iron.  I hate to use trendy cliche terms, but this is a true super food.

So I’m not just making this post to introduce a great food, but I’m also going to provide a recipe using it.  I have not tried this recipe yet but will be within the next week, and I hope you have an open mind to try it out as well. I’m going to be making Quinoa Chili using a recipe from Allrecipes.com  found here. This recipe does make enough for ten servings, and I have never been very good at modifying recipes for fewer people so I’m going to have left overs.  If there is a simple solution to this, let me know!

Any potential vegetarians out there should be very happy with this recipe. However, if you’re like me and would prefer that your chili had some meat to it, you can easily add in a pound of extra-lean ground beef or even ground turkey to change it to your liking.

Ingredient List:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (19 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook and stir 1 minute to release the flavors. Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno pepper, chipotle pepper, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 minutes, stir in the reserved quinoa and corn. Cook to reheat the corn for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cilantro to serve.
If you have a crockpot and would prefer to slowcook this chili (I might attempt this) just cook the quinoa separately and stir it in when the chili is cooked.  The quinoa should thicken the chili up if it appears a bit watery.  Add some shredded cheese to the top if you like and enjoy!  Tell me how yours turns out!