Nutrition, recipes

Be Fit Basics: Quinoa Breakfast Cereal

11/2 cups skim milk
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving
4 teaspoons honey, agave, or maple syrup
20 walnut halves
1 cup sliced strawberries

In a medium saucepan, combine skim milk, quinoa, salt, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat to low and cook until milk is absorbed and quinoa is tender (about 20 minutes).

Remove pan from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with fork.

Divide quinoa evenly among 4 bowls. Top each with 1 teaspoon of honey, agave, or maple syrup, 5 or 6 walnut halves, and 1/4 cup of sliced strawberries. Use additional milk as desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 300 • Protein: 10g • Sodium: 190mg • Carbohydrate: 50g • Fiber: 7g • Fat: 8g • Sat Fat: 0.5g

Recipe adapted from
Nutrition, recipes

Be Fit Basics: Quinoa Parsley Salad

Celebrate Whole Grains Month with this easy grain salad.  One serving is a good source of iron.

1 cup of water
½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¾ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup thinly sliced celery
½ cup thinly sliced green onion
½ cup finely chopped dried apricots
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.  While the quinoa is cooking, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork and place in a bowl.  Add the parsley, celery, onion, and apricots.  Toss with the dressing to coat and top with pumpkin seeds.

Yield: Serves 4

Serving Size:  about 2/3 cup.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 195 calories • Protein: 5 g • Sodium: 160 mg • Carbohydrate: 33 g
Fiber: 4 g • Fat: 6 g • Sat Fat: 1 g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.  Originally posted on

Quinoa Three Ways

By Jessica Ismert
Dietetic Intern

Quinoa FrameQuinoa, pronounced “keen-wah,” is a nutrient rich super-food that was tragically given a difficult-to-pronounce name. Perhaps the tricky name has made it seem intimidating to home cooks. Contrary to what you may think, quinoa can be more than just a healthy grain and is really easy to prepare.  Making a batch of quinoa to start off your week gives you endless options to use it for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to come.

Quinoa is a whole grain with more protein than many other grains.  Take it from one of the MGH outpatient dietitians, Emily Gelsomin. She was recently quoted in a article saying “quinoa is one of the only plant-based sources of protein that contains all the essential amino acids your body needs.” Quinoa is also a good source of potassium, which promotes healthy blood pressure.

That all sounds lovely, but how do you incorporate quinoa into your day-to-day meals? The trick is to master one basic recipe like this one that leaves you with a simple fluffy quinoa you can change up throughout the week. Adding different flavors and toppings allows quinoa to play a different role in every meal.

Quinoa for breakfast: Treat cooked quinoa like you would any breakfast cereal. Sprinkle with some cinnamon, chopped walnuts, fresh fruit or raisins and honey. Add a splash of almond milk and you have yourself a morning delicacy.  Add this mixture to some Greek yogurt for more of a protein boost to start your day.

Quinoa for lunch: For an easy lunch to take to the office, fold your quinoa into a wrap.  For instance, this quinoa wrap with black beans, feta, and avocado. If you’re not a wrap person, try warming up your quinoa with avocado, beans, and cheese and putting it on salad greens. Toss in some diced chicken for an extra protein punch.

Quinoa for dinner: Quinoa can be a great grain to add to any dinner. Eat it as a simple and flavorful side dish by adding some olive oil, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese. Or, make quinoa part of a breakfast-for-dinner meal by adding an egg.  Start by sautéing the quinoa with some olive oil, greens (great with spinach or arugula), salt and pepper.  Add an over-easy egg on top of your quinoa-green dish and you have a well-balanced meal.

Transforming simple quinoa into different recipes is easy and gives you a chance to be creative with your favorite flavors.  Remember to be mindful of your serving size, as you would with any grain. Keep your serving size to less than ½ cup when pairing it with the rest of your meal. One ½ cup cooked quinoa is about 115 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrate, and 4 grams of protein.

(Post reviewed by Debra Powers, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist)
Heart Health, Nutrition, recipes, Secret Ingredient

The Secret Ingredient Is…Quinoa

Cooking Utensils
Photo Credit: Päivi Rytivaara

Whole grains have gained a lot of attention lately.  They have been shown to promote heart health and are good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  One of the key recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans updated earlier this year was replacing at least half of our refined grains with whole grains.  Oatmeal, barley, buckwheat and corn are all pretty common; examples of less common whole grains include amaranth and bulgur.  Another whole grain that has been steadily increasing in popularity is quinoa.  

Although considered a grain product, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually a seed native to South America.  While it has been appearing more and more in steadily in American supermarkets recently, quinoa has been grown and harvested for thousands of years—it was once was a staple food for the Incas.  Quinoa is high in protein, with 9 grams in each cup (cooked).  It’s also a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids the body needs to function but can’t produce on its own (meat, dairy products and soy are also complete proteins).  And, because it doesn’t contain gluten, a protein found in many grain products, quinoa is ideal for someone on a gluten free diet.  

In addition to being high in protein, quinoa is also a good source of iron and folate, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) which the body uses when converting food into energy.  Quinoa is also a good source of magnesium, a mineral necessary for many of the body’s day to day functions from repairing cells to maintaining a regular heart beat.  

Quinoa is easy to prepare, usually simmered in hot water like rice, and cooks quickly—ready to serve in 12-15 minutes (compare this to 30+ minute cook time for brown rice).  Just remember to rinse your quinoa well before cooking to remove the seeds’ bitter coating. 

Looking to try a new side dish?  Try this quinoa salad recipe recommended by one of our nutritionists: 

 Orange Quinoa Salad
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

1-1/3 cup quinoa, uncooked
2-3/4 cup water
¼ cup orange juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp reduced fat (2%) buttermilk
2 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 cup scallions, sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds (or pepitas)

Place uncooked quinoa in a large skillet and cook 4 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. Next, place quinoa in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Repeat rinsing procedure a second time (this removes quinoa’s natural bitter coating). Combine quinoa and 2-3/4 cups of water together in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the quinoa boils, cover and reduce heat; cook for about 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, whisk orange juice, olive oil, buttermilk, honey, salt and pepper together in a bowl and set aside. When quinoa is cooked through, remove from heat and let cool. Toss quinoa with orange juice mixture, scallions, cranberries, parsley and pumpkin seeds and serve room temperature.

Yield: (10 servings; 1/2 cup each)

CALORIES: 185 calories
SODIUM: 155 g
Iron: 2 g
FIBER: 3 g
FAT: 6 g Sat Fat: 1.0 g

(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department)