Quinoa is a plant-based protein staple. It supplies 8 g protein and 5 g fiber per cup, cooked. It’s a good source of folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Folate is a B-vitamin that’s essential for healthy fetal development in the earliest stages of pregnancy. It can prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. While it’s recommended that women who are pregnant or even trying to conceive take a folate supplement, consuming folate (and any other vitamin, for that matter) straight from food is always optimal.
Pregnant women require more iron (about 27 mg/day vs 18 mg pre pregnancy) in their diet, as well. The extra iron is needed for your growing baby and placenta, as well as the 50% increase of blood in your body. Iron is essential in the production of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for carrying oxygen from red blood cells to other cells in your body, and also myoglobin, collagen, and numerous enzymes.
Magnesium works in coordination with calcium for healthy muscle function and is reported to keep the uterus from contracting prematurely. It also helps build strong bones and teeth. One cup of quinoa contributes 118 mg to the approximately 350 mg needed daily during pregnancy.
Phosphorus and manganese are minerals that help build strong baby bones, and also promote proper muscle function and cell repair. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 40% of the phosphorus and more than 50% of the manganese a pregnant woman is recommended to intake daily.
In short, quinoa kicks nutritional ass!
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
These are a tasty alternative to veggie burgers and veggie kabobs for this grilling season. They’re high in plant-based protein and will even get the meat-eaters at the BBQ drooling.
- 4 pasilla peppers
- 1 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 c water
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (If you like extra spice, try to find the one with jalapeños in it.)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- salt to taste
- 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 c cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/2 c sliced black olives
- 1/2 c corn (either grilled and cut off the cob, frozen and defrosted, or canned and rinsed)
- your favorite guacamole & salsa
- In a medium pot, combine quinoa, water, tomatoes, cumin, garlic and onion powders. Bring to a boil, and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is cooked.
- Meanwhile, cut the tops off the peppers and clean out any seeds.
- Once the quinoa is cooked, combine in a separate bowl with beans, cilantro, and olives. You could also add corn…in fact, I should have…damnit, why didn’t I think of that before?! Salt to taste.
- Stuff the peppers with quinoa mixture. Replace the tops and hold them together with skewers. Trim excess length off the skewers so that they don’t burn on the grill.
- Cook the peppers on the BBQ, turning occasionally until peppers have softened and charred a bit on all sides.
- To plate, remove skewers, and top with guacamole and salsa. You can make your own if your child naps, but in the case of my sleep-hating baby, we went with store-bought.