Exercise & Fitness


As fitness professionals, a large part of our job (outside of teaching proper form and technique) is about educating our clients on healthful foods.

Often, there is an “it” food that someone saw on “Dr. Oz” and that keeps popping up in magazines. For instance, quinoa. If you haven’t tried it yet, here are some of our favorite recipes and just a little bit of background info on this nutritional powerhouse.

Quinoa is a grain-like crop known for its edible seeds. It is a false grain because it is not part of the grass family, but it shares many of the same nutrients as a grain. Quinoa is actually closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweed.

Quinoa dish

Nutritionally, quinoa is very good compared with cereal grains. It contains essential amino acids and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus and iron. Quinoa is a good source of complete protein and dietary fiber. It is also gluten-free.

Quinoa can be an alternative to rice or couscous as it has a similar light, fluffy texture when cooked. Quinoa does have a mild, slightly nutty flavor when cooked. Cooking quinoa is very similar to cooking rice, using a 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa ratio. Bring the water to a boil, add quinoa and cover, simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, or prepare as the directions on the quinoa package suggest. Quinoa can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Try Quinoa with our Top 10 favorite recipes:

Quinoa with Peaches and Creamy Yogurt (serves 4)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 large fresh peach, pitted and chopped
  • ½ cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice, or to taste

If quinoa is not pre-rinsed, rinse in plenty of cool water to remove bitter coating, and drain. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, and stir in the quinoa; reduce heat to low, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain excess water, and mix in the cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg.

Mix the chopped peach with yogurt in a bowl. Serve quinoa in a serving bowl, topped with about 2 tablespoons of the peach yogurt. Drizzle with a teaspoon or so of honey, sprinkle with nutmeg, and drizzle about a teaspoon of lime juice over the top.

Southwestern Salad (Makes 6-8 servings so it’s great for busy weeks!)

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp. mild chili powder, cayenne pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in large bowl and toss. Make ahead of time on the weekend for quick lunches.

Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach (serves 4)

  • 1 whole garlic head
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp. dry white wine
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 1 Tbsp. shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove papery skin from garlic head. Cut garlic head in half crosswise, breaking apart to separate whole cloves. Wrap half of head in foil; reserve remaining garlic for another use. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and red pepper to pan; cook 1 minute. Add quinoa to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in garlic pulp, spinach, tomato, cheese, and salt. Serve immediately.

Quinoa Vegetable Stir Fry (Makes 4)

  • 2-3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1-2 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp. brown mustard seed
  • ½ tsp. dry ginger
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ¼ cup cashew pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley

Heat oil on medium-low in a large shallow pan.

Peel the carrot, half lengthwise, and slice in thin pieces. Wash and trim the celery, cut in thin pieces lengthwise, then slice thin.

Turn heat to medium high. Add the brown mustard seeds and heat in the oil until they start to pop. Add the carrots, celery, and cashews. Stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the spices and stir-fry for 2 minutes, until mixed well and browned.

Stir in the cooked quinoa, soy sauce, frozen peas, and 2 Tbsp. water. Cover and steam for 5 minutes on medium low heat, or until the veggies are tender. Stir in the chopped parsley or cilantro, and serve.


I will share the rest of our top 10 quinoa recipes in the next blog…please check back!


  Jill Stoppel has been involved in the fitness industry since 2009 and has been personal training full-time since 2002. She is the sole owner of Excel Wellness Studio, is certified through the American Council of Exercise and holds several certifications in group exercise, spinning and kickboxing. She also maintains memberships, affiliations and mentorships within the major health and fitness organizations in the nation to stay connected to other top professionals. She and her team offer fitness advice to Kansas Citians exclusively for Good Health KC magazine online