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South of the Border

May 3, 2010

By Brianne Harrison

It’s Cinco de Mayo this week, which always puts me in the mood for some south-of-the-border flavors. Classic guacamole with chips is great, but why not adapt some of those flavors into a healthier side dish or light lunch salad? Here’s what I came up with:

Quinoa with Black Beans, Avocado, and Lime
1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed
½ an avocado, cubed
Juice of 1 lime

1. Rinse the quinoa under cold running water for 1-2 minutes, until the water runs clear. Heat just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa, and roast for a minute or two, stirring. Add 1 ½ cups water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes. When the quinoa is done, let it cool to room temperature.

2. Mix in the black beans and avocado. Add lime juice, about a tablespoon at a time, to taste. Season to taste, if necessary.

Healthy Roundup:

Quinoa, a seed once known as “the gold of the Incas” for its ability to sustain warriors, is rich in amino acids as well as manganese, magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper, lysine, and phosphorus. These important minerals help maintain stamina, relax blood vessels, and aid in tissue growth and repair. Quinoa is considered a whole grain, and it provides a lot of fiber, which keeps blood sugars from spiking and helps you feel full longer.

Black beans are, of course, extremely high in dietary fiber (providing almost 60% of what you need in a day!) as well as molybdenum, folate, tryptophan, manganese, protein, and magnesium. Research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry also suggests that black beans are very high in antioxidants.

Avocados provide vitamin K, potassium, folate, copper, and—you guessed it—fiber! The oleic acid in avocados may also help lower cholesterol, and potassium helps regulate blood pressure, making these giant berries a good heart-healthy choice. There’s also been some talk that oleic acid may provide protection against breast cancer, and that avocados increase your body’s ability to absorb carotenoids from vegetables.

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