As a health coach, one of the main concepts I want my clients to comprehend is that eating healthy is not boring, nor tasteless. Many have in mind that a healthy lifestyle means cardboard tasting food, or feeling hungry. I assure my clients this is not the route to long term success in terms of health goals. Healthy food can in fact be full of flavor, ranging from health-promoting spices to tasty grains like quinoa.
I’ve talked about quinoa several times in previous columns, and always recommend it to clients who are looking for tasty ways to incorporate whole grains into their diet. Quinoa is a wonderful high protein grain, and it tastes great with almost anything. For those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, quinoa may become your favorite grain alternative in the kitchen. The best thing about quinoa is that it has a very subtle taste, so it’ll work perfectly well with whatever you incorporate it with. You may use it in desserts, for breakfast as a porridge, or with vegetables for a high protein dinner.
Aside being high in protein amino acids, quinoa is very high in dietary fiber. It comes along with a wonderful dose of B Vitamins, iron, and magnesium. For those who are anemic or have low blood iron, quinoa is a wonderful food to add to your diet. The secret in this recipe is the mixture of kale, quinoa, and lemon juice. Both kale and quinoa are great sources of iron. However, when you combine high iron foods with foods high in Vitamin C, your body will then better absorb the iron. So, when you drizzle your quinoa with lemon juice, you’re providing your body with ease in absorbing the iron. The same goes for other foods high in Vitamin C, not just lemons.
Although you may swap the kale for spinach or other greens in this pilaf recipe, I recommend you keep the kale for a boost of nutrients. To help you comprehend how high it is in vitamins, simply compare it to lettuce. Romaine lettuce has approximate 107% of your daily value of Vitamin K per serving. On the other hand, kale has 1108% Vitamin K in just one cup. That’s right, kale is a super food. Kale has over fifteen nutrients per serving. It’s very high in antioxidants and carries anti-inflammatory benefits as well.
This recipe is so fairly easy to put together, once the initial step of baking the pumpkin and cubing it is over. This is a perfect recipe to use the pumpkin your child may bring home from a field trip at the apple orchard. Pumpkin is very high in Vitamin A, and is a nutrient dense food. It carries anti-cancerous properties, potassium, and Vitamin C too. Without hesitation, get more pumpkin on your dinner plate.
I usually like this dish with parsley for a boost of Vitamin K, but had a bunch of fresh dill on hand and decided to give it a try. It gave it an interesting flavorful kick, and comes with health benefits too. In fact, dill is very high in Vitamin A and C, and is good source of iron. However, if you are not a fan of dill, you may use parsley instead.
2 cups organic quinoa (plus five cups of water for cooking)
1 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil
1 cup fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced
3 cups organic frozen kale (or spinach)
1 small fresh pumpkin (pre baked and cubed)
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon Himalayan Pink Salt or unrefined celtic salt
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup fresh dill, washed, dried, and chopped
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lemon slices, fresh dill, fresh red peppers
Sautee the coconut oil, mushrooms, and kale in a deep pot for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are browned.
Add about 5 cups of room temperature water and the quinoa. Add all the spices and stir with a spoon to incorporate everything in evenly.
Cover and allow it to cook for about 18 minutes; until the quinoa is tender.
Fold in the fresh dill and mix slightly.
Transfer to a flat serving platter.
Garnish with lemon slices, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and red peppers.
Editor’s Note: Noor Salem is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and is CEO of her own wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition, LLC. Noor specialized in women’s health, weight loss, and food intolerance versus allergies. She offers individual and group health coaching programs, and is a speaker on the topic of holistic health at workshops and seminars. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, with numerous health tips, recipes, and prophetic remedies. The views expressed here are her own.