The U.N. recently designated 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa.” If you haven’t already discovered the amazing health benefits and versatility of this protein-rich seed with a pleasantly crunchy texture and nutty flavor, now is a great time to start!

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) has rightfully developed a reputation as a superfood, supplying significant quantities of essential vitamins and minerals including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, and copper. A cup of cooked quinoa also contains 8 grams of complete protein and 5 grams of fiber!

Quinoa is gluten-free, easy to prepare, and extremely versatile. Check out the guide below for suggestions on incorporating this super seed into your diet!

5 Ways to Use Quinoa:

Quinoa is an excellent source of complete protein and fiber, making it a great option for a filling breakfast! You can make a fresh batch of quinoa in just a few minutes, or use leftover quinoa from last night’s dinner. To make a healthy, satisfying quinoa breakfast (2 servings), simply combine 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 1/4 cup soy or almond milk, 1 mashed banana, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1-2 T agave nectar, and 2 T chopped pecans in a small saucepan. Cook 3-5 minutes over medium heat, or just until warmed, before serving.

Energy Bars
Quinoa is a great addition to any type of energy, breakfast or cereal bar. Simply combine cooked quinoa with your favorite mixture of dried fruit, nuts, ground flax, protein powder, nut butter, and liquid sweetener (such as agave nectar or brown rice syrup), press into a greased pan, and bake!

Use quinoa as the base for a black bean salad; toss with cucumber, tomato and Italian dressing for a light summer salad; or combine with chickpeas, sundried tomatoes and avocado for a richer salad. The combinations are endless!

Take your veggie sushi to the next level by using quinoa in place of rice! Combine 2 cups of cooked, cooled quinoa with the following mixture: 2 T rice vinegar, 1 T oil, 2 T agave nectar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Works best for maki-style rolls.

Rice Substitute
You can use quinoa anywhere you’d typically use rice. It’s great used in casseroles and stir fry, mixed with beans, or simply topped with tofu and vegetables.

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