Are you back to the workweek and ready to get on track with some new healthy eating ideas for 2016? If so, read on. This Quinoa and Bean Chili is very easy to make, keeps well in the refrigerator so that it can be reheated for multiple meals, and makes an easy one-dish meal for those nights when you just don’t have a lot of time or energy to put together a “perfect” three course home-cooked meal. You know the fantasy meal- freshly pressed white table linens, glowing candles, beautiful flowers, angelic faces around the table speaking softly about their day…..got that image?….let’s move on….
Quinoa is an edible seed that in recent years has achieved celebrity status as one of the “wonder grains” of the world (although technically a seed, not a grain). Thought to be originally cultivated by the Incas in the Andes of South America over 6,000 years ago, it began finding its way into the the US food supply a few years back and has gradually managed to become something of a staple among people looking for plant-based protein sources which are not derived from soy or wheat. In fact, the United Nations even declared 2013 “International Year of the Quinoa”.
One cup of uncooked quinoa contains around 24 grams of protein, according to the USDA National Food and Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Quinoa also contains the 9 essential amino acids which qualifies it as a “complete” protein. It is naturally gluten-free but could be subject to cross-contamination during harvesting or processing, so please be careful about the brand and source of your quinoa if you do have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
In this dish, Pam and I have also included two types of beans (pinto and red kidney), so you are also getting good additional plant-based protein from the beans too. One cup of either cooked pinto beans or red kidney beans provide around 15 grams of protein and over 13 grams of fiber. So between the quinoa and the beans, a serving of this recipe supplies around 11 grams of protein overall, or the equivalent of around 1 and 1/2 ounces of grilled flank steak (and that’s before you add a bit of Greek yogurt or cheese, if desired, as part of the garnish).
Quinoa and Bean Chili (serves 8 – 10)
by Pam Mehta and Barbara Spalding, MA, MS, RDN
- Nonfat Greek yogurt
- Cheddar Cheese
- Chopped Scallions
- Chopped Cilantro
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 3 Cloves of garlic
- 3 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 ½ tsp. chili powder
- ½ Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- ½ Green Bell Pepper, chopped
- ½ Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 cup quinoa, soaked in water for 20 min. and drained
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup whole kernel corn, frozen
- 1 can (15 oz.) “no salt” diced tomatoes
- 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans
- 2 cans (15 oz.) red kidney beans
1. Place canola oil in large pot. Add onion and garlic, and sauté slightly (2-3 min).
2. Add the cumin powder, dried oregano, chili powder, and stir briefly.
3. Add the chopped peppers and mix.
4. Drain the quinoa, add it to the pot and add the vegetable broth. Cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn, and salt. Cover and continue to cook for another 10 – 15 minutes until quinoa is done. If desired, add additional “no salt” vegetable broth or water to achieve desired consistency.
6. Garnish with nonfat Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, and chopped cilantro, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 250 calories; 3.5 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 810 mg sodium; 45 grams carbohydrate; 10 grams dietary fiber; 11 grams protein (values are approximate).
Pam Mehta and Barbara Spalding, MA, MS, RDN