Top with the blanced asparagus

Quinoa: A Dieter’s Deam! Try This Tastey Quiona and Asparagus Risotto

Quinoa is taking off!  We’re seeing it served in restaurants across the country, written up in numerous articles and is a key subject that is brought up in the overall discussion about maintaining a healthy diet.  But what exactly is quinoa?  Where does it come from? What are these “health benefits” it provides? How can we eat it?

I have tons of good news for you when it comes to quinoa.  It has been around for over 5000 years when the Incas cultivated it as one of their stable crops.  Since then, science has  proven quinoa to be a superfood, filled with antioxidants, high quality protein and fiber.  Although quinoa cooks and tastes like a grain, it’s actually a seed that comes from the spinach family.  Due to it’s light and fluffy texture and nutty taste, it’s a great substitute for dishes that call for rice or corn or some sort of a grain.  It also has attributes that help with loosing weight and managing a healthy diet.

Quinoa is a protein powerhouse!  Not only that,  quinoa contains all 8 of the essential amino acids, and is a complete protein.  One cup of quinoa has 9 grams of protein, which is more that a protein-rich egg, wheat, barley and many other grains.

To the dieter’s delight, quinoa is rich with fiber, and digests slowly, helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, keep you feeling full for a long time and provides long lasting energy.  For anyone who works out on a regular basis, try including quinoa into your diet and you’ll quickly notice the energy it provides to help with successful exercise sessions.

What else!?  For starters, quinoa is high in iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power. Quinoa’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize your mood.  Additionally, a cup of quinoa has 30 milligrams of calcium. Calcium builds and maintains bones and teeth, helps regulate the contraction of the heart, and facilitates nerve and muscle function.  For people who do not consume much dairy, quinoa is an amazing substitute to help deliver the needed calcium in a diet.

So let’s get cooking!  My favorite cookbook, Big Vegan  Robin Asbell, has an amazing Quinoa-Asparagus Risotto recipe that I’d like to share.  I promise you’ll love it.  Even my father, who isn’t into trying new foods thought it was a big winner!  I served this dish with Tempeh steaks covered in mushroom-white wine sauce, which you can find here:


Quinoa-Asparagus Risotto


1 qt of vegetable stock

1 lb of fresh asparagus

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 tsp salt

freshly cracked black pepper


1. Pour the stock into a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Cut off 3 inches of the tips of the asparagus.  Drop them into the simmering stock to blanch for 3 to 4 minutes.  Use tongs to remove the asparagus to a plate and cover to keep warm.  Keep the stock barely simmering.

2. Thinly slice the remaining asparagus stems, discarding the tough bases.  In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil and saute’ the onion and sliced asparagus stems until soft.  Add the quinoa and rice and saute’, stirring to coat the grains with oil.  Add the wine and cook until dry.  Add the salt and season with pepper.

3.  Add ladlefuls of stock to the pan and cook until the liquid is absorbed before adding more.  Start testing the rice for doneness about 20 minutes from when you added the wine.  When the quinoa has thrown off its haloes of germ and the rice is just tender, remove the pan from the heat.  Serve the risotto topped with the blanched asparagus tips.



A nice meal of quinoa-asparagus risotto served with tempeh  steaks and mushroom-white wine sauce