First, happy Friday! I know I’m excited for the weekend. Work has been crazy as usual so it will be nice to get a rest. I have a Guster concert tonight that I’m really psyched about and tomorrow I am going to my hometown in NJ for my bridesmaid’s baby shower (it’s a boy!). On Sunday Bobby and I are going to a family dinner here in NYC and I’m also hoping to find a way to get in at least two yoga classes this weekend (haven’t been in over a week). But anyway, onto the topic for today…
Here are 10 reasons to start eating quinoa – NOW.
1. It’s filling. The protein + fiber in quinoa will satisfy your hunger and keep you full longer.
2. It’s packed with protein. One cup of cooked quinoa has just over 8 grams of protein (source). Divide your body weight (in pounds) by 2 and that is approximately how many grams of protein you should aim for. For women, between 50-75 grams is probably plenty.
3. It’s delicious. I will never say no to a big bowl of quinoa.
4. You’ll stay slim eating quinoa. What helps me lean out when I’ve been over-indulging? Filling grains like quinoa. I can’t get full on veggies alone and quinoa stops my cravings on the spot.
5. Quinoa is a great alternative to other typical grains. Bored of rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread? Cook up a batch of quinoa for a chewy, hearty, delicious side dish.
6. It’s versatile – have it for breakfast! Mix quinoa, Greek (or regular) yogurt, some peanut butter, and slice a banana on top. OR try using quinoa flakes to make a healthy breakfast cookie.
(^^my breakfast cookies^^)
(^^i also have made gluten-free cookies with quinoa flakes^^)
7. It’s versatile – have it for lunch! Mix quinoa, seaweed salad, a chopped hard-boiled egg, and some lettuce together for a protein-packed & Asian-inspired meal.
(^^or maybe some quinoa tabbouleh?^^)
8. It’s versatile – have it for dinner! Make burritos filled with chili meat (cook chopped onions + turkey + pack of chili spice + can of tomatoes), quinoa, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and avocados.
9. Quinoa is vitamin-rich. I like to get my vitamins from whole-food sources, not a pill. Quinoa has iron, manganese, riboflavin (B2), magnesium, lysene, and more. You can ditch the daily vitamins if you just eat real foods.
10. It’s a prebiotic – good for the digestive system (feeds good bacteria). Your belly will thank you. For those of us with IBS, it’s so important to eat foods that nourish the stomach and intestines. And even if you don’t have IBS, it’s still good to nourish yourself.
So… what are you waiting for? Go get some quinoa! I recently discovered the tri-color quinoa at Trader Joe’s and it is awesome.
I got this question at work the other day (we’re a fairly healthy-minded bunch):
What are complex carbs vs simple carbs?
This question seems complex, but the answer is quite simple. Simple carbs and complex carbs end up in the same place of the nutrition facts label, but they are most certainly different.
Are all carbs bad?
Clearly not all carbohydrates are bad. We need carbs to live – glucose (what carbs break down to in your body) is what your body uses for energy. That’s why when you eat a candy bar you get hyper for a little while – your body just got a big dose of easy-to-use energy because the carbs were partially processed before they got to your stomach. Simple carbs and complex carbs both turn into sugar in the body; the process just happens faster for simple carbs.
I’m pretty sensitive to sugar (too many sweet treats = too many pimples). In addition to my skin sensitivity to sugar, I also seem to have either a mental or physical reaction to eating it – once I start it’s hard to stop! If I have a McD’s cone as a snack I also want one for dessert that night, for a snack the next day, and forever more. So I try to avoid sugar to avoid sugar cravings and bad acne. When it comes down to complex versus simple carbohydrates, complex is what I choose, especially complex carbs from veggies.
Which carbs are bad for us?
Most scientists agree that the faster carbs (simple, or white carbs; meaning they convert to sugar quickly) are the worst type of carbohydrate. This is mainly because they spike blood sugar, which has a number of negative long-term effects including a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. These carbs include (and thus I try* to avoid…):
- Processed carbs like white bread, white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (also regular corn syrup)*
- Processed carbs like candy, cookies, most baked goods*
- Fake sweeteners (not technically carbs because they have no calories – but they give me a stomachache, a headache, and it’s probably not good to eat frankenfood chemicals)
I love muffins!
*I still eat these things, but in moderation when I want them. Artisan bread with smooth creamy butter? On occasion, yes please!
Which carbs are good in moderation?
There is definitely a middle ground when it comes to complex versus simple carbs, and that middle ground is whole grain-y things (for me). They’re not the easiest foods to digest (see IBS), but they certainly are delicious. These guys include:
- Unprocessed grains like rice (white or brown).* (I grew up hating rice but now I LOVE it. I usually have it several times a week. It’s especially good with ghee, aka clarified butter.)
- Oatmeal (steel cut, regular – preferably not instant).
- Winter squash (these are my favorite foods, but it’s easy to get a stomachache if you eat too much of them; squash also has lots of beta-carotene – but beware the orange glow).
I love having rice with veggies, like in bi-bim-bap (pictured above – veggies, egg, beef over rice). In fact, I just like mixing foods together in general. Mix-it-up bowls are possibly the greatest invention ever.
Which carbs are good for us?
Most vegetable carbohydrates are good for our bodies. Some of my favorite carbs are…
- Root veggies like carrots, parsnips, winter squash (kabocha, acorn, spaghetti, butternut, etc…)
- Non-root veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, peppers, yadda yadda yadda… Veggies are a diet staple.
- Fruits (but not too much). Fruit makes me break out as well in large (more than 1 a day) quantities. Some lower-sugar fruits that I really like are: papaya, blueberries, berries in general, cranberry juice (without sugar) and spritzer, lime/lemon juice and spritzer, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew).
Do you eat a lot of carbs? Do you avoid any? Which are your favorites?
When it comes down to complex carbs vs simple carbs, it’s probably better to choose the complex ones. But remember to include healthy fats (including saturated fat – it’s good for the brain) and protein. Out of the simple carbs, sugar is probably the worst. At least that is what works for me!
Do you remember this “Indian rice” recipe I made a few months ago? I almost forgot about it until this week. Then I made a variation of it and now I’m obsessed again. It is just so good. Eating rice (spiced rice!) just makes me happy.
Here is my new variation, and the new ways I’ve been enjoying it:
Obsession-Inducing Spiced Rice
- 1 cup rice of choice (this week: brown basmati (1x) and short grain white (1x))
- water (1:1 ratio for white rice; 2 cups water to 1 cup rice for brown)
- 2 heaping tablespoons of ghee (butter works too) (or if you are vegan use peanut/sesame oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2+ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2+ teaspoon dill
- 1/4 cup raisins
- Soak raisins in hot water until plump. Chop in small pieces.
- Put all ingredients in rice cooker, mix, press start.
- (Alternately, you can cook rice on the stove, the normal way…)
- Serve with peanut butter.
- Or serve with yogurt.
- Or however else you choose.
My dessert one night: peanut buttery brown basmati rice concoction (just basmati obsession-rice + heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter):
And a breakfast of: yogurty short-grain white rice mix (obsession-inducing white rice + 2% greek yogurt + NuNaturals cocoa bean extract) (enter my NuNaturals giveaway here):
The rice comes out nice and chewy and flavorful. I will definitely keep making it!
Don’t forget about my NuNaturals giveaway! It ends Saturday.
White obsession-rice over a mystery salad… can you guess what’s in that lunch bowl of yum?