A gluten-free diet does not necessarily mean you can’t still enjoy your hearty grains! Whether diagnosed with Celiac disease (or gluten-intolerance) or simply choosing a gluten-free lifestyle for health benefits, there is no lack in healthy options when it comes to your grains! One of the most popular gluten-free grains is quinoa.

Quinoa is a plant-based grain full of nutritional benefits. It can be used in baking, soups, salads or as a gluten-free substitute for your favorite grain dishes. This small grain boasts a high level of protein at 8 grams per cup! As a source of low-cholesterol complex carbs, you’ll feel satiated after one serving of quinoa with its rich fiber content. Being a complex-carb, quinoa can also act as a cleanser by easing the process of food through the digestive tract!

Along with high levels of protein and fiber, quinoa is also high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. A flavonoid called quercetin found in quinoa promotes immune system health and disease prevention. If that’s not enough, the anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa qualify this powerhouse gluten-free grain as a diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk reducer!

To prepare and cook quinoa, it is best to rinse before cooking.  Quinoa has a natural saponin coating which causes a bitter taste. Rinsing quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before cooking removes this natural protective coating. When cooking quinoa, use a ratio of 1 part grain, 2 parts liquid. To add flavor and nutrients, try cooking quinoa in vegetable stock! It will absorb the liquid it cooks in and more than double in volume.

This nutrient dense grain has become a staple in gluten-free diets and is versatile in all forms of cooking and baking. Enjoy cold or warm with a bed of raw or sautéed greens, as an addition to a homemade protein bar or a simple grain dish with citrus, nutty flavors and fresh herbs!

Herbed Quinoa with Orange and Pistachio Sauce

Ingredients:
1 Cup White Quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 Cups Vegetable Broth or Water
3 Tablespoons Parsley, chopped
3 Tablespoons Chives, chopped
3 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
1/4 Cup Pistachios, chopped
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Orange
Sea Salt to taste
1/2 Orange, peeled and cut into segments – skin zested

Directions:
Bring vegetable broth or water to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa and return to a boil. Lower heat and cook for about 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

In a small sauté pan, dry roast the chopped pistachios until fragrant. Add olive oil and fresh orange juice and let sizzle. Reduce for 1 minute.

Add the herbs to the cooked quinoa and toss together while hot. Add grated orange zest and a dash of sea salt, mix to combine. Spoon herbed quinoa onto a plate and pour over the orange pistachio sauce. Garnish with orange segments and serve.

Recipe adapted from: The Grounded Foodie

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