High protein plant based foods are often a challenge for people to include in their diets. When we think of protein based foods, lean red meat, poultry, dairy, eggs and fish often come to mind. I can’t possibly be the only person that has heard personal trainers hand out poor dietary advice, telling their clients to eat tuna or chicken for every meal to get their protein fix!

As it is bowel cancer awareness week, and too high a consumption of meat and processed meats have been found to be a risk factor for developing bowel cancer, I thought it was only fitting to introduce you all to a high protein grain, Quinoa (pronounced kin-wah).

For those of you that feel it is time to add some more plant based foods into your diet, think about having 1 meat free day for the week. Meatless Mondays is a term that has been used for years, and including other protein sources such as legumes or testing out the ancient grain, Quinoa, might just be the answer.

This miracle seed unlike most other grains is a complete protein, which means it includes all 9 essential amino acids that the body requires to build muscle. I challenge you to see if you can have a meat free day each week for the next 3 weeks.

There are very few non-animal based products, which are high in protein, and in particular, are a complete protein, however quinoa is one of them. This may be the answer for the vegetarians, vegans and non-meat lovers out there to top up their daily protein needs.

  • Quinoa is high in many essential vitamins and minerals.
  • It is wheat free and is appropriate for most people with food intolerances.
  • Quinoa is particularly high in fibre.
  • It is low GI, which means it will keep you feeling fuller for longer compared to most other refined carbohydrates.
  • It is great for all the diabetics sufferers, as it helps regulate blood sugar levels.

I know often using a new ingredient can seem a little daunting. I sometimes get put off because I don’t exactly know how to prepare or cook the food. So with that in mind, I thought it was best to tell you that there are actually many easy and delicious ways to enjoy quinoa.

It can be eaten both as a sweet or savoury dish and can also be eaten hot or cold. Quinoa is actually a very versatile ingredient; it can make for a nutritious breakfast by adding fruit and nuts to make a tasty quinoa porridge, or cooked quinoa can be added to salads, tabouli, pastas, soups, curries and casseroles.

I actually tried out a quinoa salad at a Mexican restaurant I went to last week, I had heard raving reviews about the hot food (Mamasitas in Melbourne), although funnily enough, the side quinoa salad was the only dish that was totally demolished (and thoroughly enjoyed!). If anyone wants to try before they start cooking themselves, I recommend trying this salad first.

There are also several quinoa products available, such as quinoa flour, quinoa noodles and quinoa sprouts (like alfafa sprouts, which can be used as a sandwich filling).

So really, there shouldn’t be any excuses. Pick some up today from your local supermarket (found in the health food section) or at a health food store and give it a go.

Cooked quinoa seeds have a subtle yet nutty type flavour (similar to BARLEYmax I suppose!) but it is the interesting, somewhat unusual texture that draws you in. When cooked for around 10 minutes quinoa seeds develop a fluffy, creamy, but still crunchy texture. Here are some delicious quinoa recipes you can try out:

http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/7523/quinoa-with-chargrilled-eggplants.aspx

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/warm-and-nutty-cinnamon-quinoa-recipe.html

http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/breakfast-quinoa

http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/quinoa-carrot-zucchini-casserole.php

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