Healthy Low Calorie Recipes:
Quinoa with Black Beans

Vegetarian, as well as one of the healthy low calorie recipes high in protein, black bean quinoa has a distinctive South American feel. Both black beans and quinoa are specially good for those following a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.

Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’) is a grain that was used to feed Inca warriors, as it was recognized early on that it gave them great stamina. This is doubtless because, alone of all grains, it provides complete protein (containing all nine of the ‘essential’ amino acids that the body cannot produce itself or make from the others) in large quantities.

It is particularly high in the amino acid Lysine, which is used to repair bodily tissue. Quinoa is also rich in magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and riboflavin (vitamin B2), which gives considerable health benefits for those who suffer from migraine headaches and atherosclerosis. With all this, you might think that this ‘miracle grain’ would taste horrible, but even there it is a winner with a delicate nutty taste and fluffy texture when cooked. If you have never used quinoa before, this dish may well make a convert of you!

Cumin is a spice that most of you will doubtless know, as it is prevalent in Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern cooking, making it one of the most versatile seasonings on earth. Cumin seeds were found at an archaeological site in Syria that dated to over 3000 years ago, so it also seems to have been popular for quite some time! This is not surprising, as it gives dishes an earthy, warming taste that is appreciated by most palates, and makes it especially good in fall and winter foods.

In addition to being warming, cumin is well known for its beneficial influence on the human digestive system and modern research has shown that it stimulates the release of pancreatic enzymes, which aid digestion. It has also been reported that cumin protects the stomach and liver from cancerous tumors.

With the addition of red bell peppers and garlic to this dish, the health benefits of which have been well documented in other healthy low calorie recipes on this site, black bean quinoa is a real winner in terms of both taste and contribution to your overall wellbeing. Do try it!

Photo: Rebecca Nichols

Quinoa with Black Beans

Yield 6
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup uncooked, rinsed quinoa
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cans 15 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned. Add the diced bell peppers and saute another 3 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
  3. Mix in the black beans, continue to heat another 5 minutes, add the cilantro and serve.


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