Quinoa granola with berries: Superfood recipe Day 14

Five health benefits of quinoa and a delicious breakfast recipe with goji and cranberries

Julie Daniluk

Quinoa is quickly becoming the nutritional superstar of the decade. Quinoa is not actually a grain — it’s a seed, which means it’s high in protein and fibre and provides balanced energy and satiety. One cup of quinoa has about as much protein as two deli slices of chicken breast, or about 15 percent protein by weight. Its high fibre helps regulate blood sugar and reduces cravings, making it a perfect weight loss tool.

One big reason why quinoa has come into fashion is it’s easy to prepare and is a wonderful replacement for refined rice. Another way to enjoy it is for breakfast, rolled. Just like rolled oats, rolled quinoa cooks in just a few minutes. 

Five more healthy reasons to eat quinoa:

1. Quinoa promotes healthy bone growth: Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids used by the body as building blocks for the development of muscle tissue and necessary metabolic enzymes. Protein is also necessary for the absorption of calcium into the bones and the development of collagen, as well as for the growth factors involved in healthy growth of the bone matrix.

2. Quinoa can help reduce cholesterol: In a 2010 study conducted in the Netherlands, rats bred to have high cholesterol were fed quinoa. These rats were also fed a high fructose diet that should further increase their harmful cholesterol (LDL) levels. After quinoa was introduced to the diet, the detrimental effects of the cholesterol and fructose began to reverse and cholesterol levels were returning to normal.

3. Quinoa is high in riboflavin: Riboflavin is a member of the B-vitamin family, which has been shown in recent studies to aid in the elimination and prevention of migraine headaches by improving the transport of oxygen into the cell. This prevents migraines from occurring and aids in their relief.

4. Quinoa’s high magnesium content promotes cardiovascular health: Magnesium has been the subject of many studies for its role in preventing hypertension through its ability to relax the small muscles that clamp down on our blood vessels. Recent research has also shown that a deficiency in magnesium actually increases the hormone (angiotensin II) that is responsible for increasing blood pressure, so magnesium has a two-fold effect on our heart health.

5. Quinoa can help prevent gallstones: Quinoa is high in insoluble dietary fibre, which has been shown to lessen the occurrence of gallstones by reducing the stagnation of bile and lowering the total blood triglycerides, which are two of the major components to gall stone formation. Quinoa is a great way to get fibre from a gluten-free source.

Quinoa granola recipe with berries
I created this recipe so everyone can enjoy the goodness of quinoa, even when they’re crazy busy in the morning. Instead of the overly sweet commercial granola that is full of fat and sugar, I let the dried fruit be the main event. It tastes great on top of stewed apples or yogurt.

1 large ripe banana
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame butter — substitute another nut butter if unavailable)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 cups rolled quinoa
3/4 cup sliced hazelnuts
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup goji berries

1. Preheat oven to 275 F.
2. Mash the banana in a large bowl with a fork. Add the rest of the wet ingredients, and stir to combine.
3. Add all the dry ingredients, except for the flax seeds, cranberries and goji berries, into the wet mixture.  Stir it all together and spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Break up large clumps to ensure even cooking.
5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or longer if you have a cool oven. Stir every 15 minutes to ensure even browning, until the granola is starting to crisp up and the nuts are getting toasty.
6. Remove the granola from the oven and stir in the flax seeds and dried berries.  Allow granola to cool completely on the pan before transferring to an airtight container.  It will get crunchy as it cools.

Makes 4 cups.

Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet (OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network), a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation (Random House) is now available and will help people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.