Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all the amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, all in one place. It is also packed with fiber, which helps your blood vessels steer clear of clots, and your colon clear of … you know. (But besides talking about feces and food all in one place, I’d like to also remind you that fiber is also anti-cancer, as it decreases the amount of time that toxins in the food you consume interact with your intestines!) This dish also has healthy leeks and cauliflower, which I talked about in a previous post, and is brightened with fruity currants. Almonds complement quinoa’s nutty flavor.
Here’s some other fun facts of why this dish is great for you:
-Almonds and other nuts have phytosterols (plant sterols), which lower your cholesterol. How do they do this? They act like cholesterol in your gut, binding to the same receptors on your enterocytes (small intestine cells) that cholesterol molecules use to enter your blood stream. Therefore, the cholesterol molecules can’t bind to these receptors, and they are led through and out of your colon. Plant sterols are so effective that their effects are additive to the most commonly used cholesterol-lowering medications: statins. (Marangoni, Pharmacol Res. 2010 Mar;61(3):193-9)
-Polyunsaturated fatty acids (you’ve heard of them as omega-3’s, omega-6’s, and perhaps alpha-linoleic acid) are abundant in nuts, tofu, soybeans, and flaxseeds. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Polyunsaturated-Fats_UCM_301461_Article.jsp) They’re beneficial for lowering your levels of bad cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease, and they also help in other inflammatory conditions. A study of 2514 people in Australia age 49 and over showed that increased nut consumption was protective against mortality from inflammatory disease (examples of these diseases include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma). (Gopinath et al. 2011 ). Another group examined patients in the Physicians’ Health Study, a cohort of over 20,000 male U.S. physicians, and found that increased nut consumption was associated with a decrease in all-cause mortality, including cardiovascular mortality, in a linear fashion. (Hshieh et al., Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;101(2):407-12). The largest study that came out in 2015 pooled the results of 15 studies, and found that nut consumption is associated with decreased all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, and cancer mortality. (Grosso et all., Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;101(4):783-93.)
Recipe (serves 4, takes 30 minutes):
1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 head cauliflower
2-3 leeks, diced
1 large carrot or 2-3 heirloom carrots, diced
1/4 cup currants
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon each allspice and cinnamon powder
Salt and pepper adjusted to taste
- Cook quinoa: in a saucepan on medium, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add 1 cup quinoa. Toast quinoa in oil for a few minutes until the nutty fragrance develops, then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil, then simmer.
- In a pan on medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil, then add leeks and cauliflowers. Saute for several minutes until the leeks get more translucent and the cauliflower softens; then add the almonds and currants and spices. Cook all together until the quinoa is ready.
- Once the quinoa is cooked, add it to the mixture. Adjust spices to your taste preference. Enjoy!