Look beyond the label

How many times have you heard this: CARROTS ARE A GREAT SOURCE OF VITAMIN A? (Or maybe you have heard that another food is a great source of another particular vitamin). If you are mindful of which foods provide essential vitamins, great job! But there is more to it than just knowing that carrots are a great source of vitamin A….what exactly does vitamin A do for you? Why is it important?

I often find myself educating clients about which foods are rich in certain vitamins, but I forget to stress the importance of those vitamins…which is, after all, the most important piece of information, right? Well, this is somewhat new information for me too. One of the more interesting portions from my recent nutrition class was the chapter on vitamins and minerals. I learned more from that section because I, like most, had only been concerned with which foods that were rich in which vitamins. It encouraged me to look beyond a label, and educate myself on what vitamins (and minerals) did for my body, what I needed more of, less of and so on.  

I’ve also found this to be a great way to shift your focus from counting calories and/or fats (negative), to thinking about what the food is doing for you (positive). Since my focus has shifted to viewing foods in this way, I am more aware of what I’m eating, OR what I’m not eating, that I should be.  

Did you know that we are deficient in vitamins and minerals?

So, I thought I would help dissect this recipe rather than just giving you another quinoa recipe as promised. I’m only going to mention the vitamins included in this recipe because if I included every vitamin and mineral known to man, you would have no time to cook this deliciousness. But, I encourage you to dissect your meals in this way and think about what that food is doing for you as you eat!

Vitamin A (jalapenos, yellow peppers, red peppers): Vitamin A assists in forming visual pigments, synthesizes proteins, assists with immune function and wound healing, embryonic development, and red blood cell developement

Vitamin C (Jalapenos, chili peppers, green peppers, yellow pepper, red peppers, onions, garlic): Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, improves iron absorption, regenerates vitamin E supplies, develops collagen, synthesizes norepinephrine, synthesizes carnitine, assists in metabolism of cholesterol

Vitamin B6 (green peppers, yellow pepper, turkey sausage, garlic): Vitamin B6 is necessary for protein & carbohydrate metabolism, nervous and immune system function, red blood cell metabolism, and the breakdown of glycogen

Vitamin B9 (green peppers): Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) is important in the metabolism of amino acids, it assists in vitamin B12 and C use and breakdown, assist in formation of new proteins, and helps with red blood cell formation and circulation

Vitamin B12 (turkey sausage): Vitamin B12 acts as an enzyme co-factor in forming and maintaining healthy nerve cells, red blood cells, and DNA synthesis

Vitamin E (red peppers): Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, cell signaling, helps immune and inflammatory cells

By the way, did you know that a green pepper contains twice the amount of an orange? This recipe is packed, I mean PACKED with vitamin C! Well, it’s packed with lots of goodness. And, do not be afraid of the spice….it didn’t come out as spicy as I had anticipated. Enjoy:)

Quinoa w/ Sausage and Peppers
1 cup quinoa
Extra virgin olive oil cooking spray
1 lb. low fat all natural chicken or turkey sausages in casings
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno, halved and sliced (remove seeds for less spicy dish)
1 red chili pepper, halved and sliced (remove seeds for less spicy dish)
½ green pepper, seeded and chopped
½ yellow or orange pepper, seeded and chopped
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1 tsp chili powder, divided
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 large tomato, diced

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Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until all water is absorbed and quinoa is plump, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, cover and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add sausages in a single layer. Cook until browned on both sides turning at least once, about 4-5 minutes. Add ½ cup chicken stock, cover and reduce heat to simmer until sausages are cooked through and broth has almost completely evaporated, 5-10 minutes. Remove sausages to a cutting board and cut into ½ inch pieces.

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3. Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add jalapenos, red chili, green and yellow peppers, and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ½ tsp paprika, ½ tsp chili powder, coriander, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato and remaining ½ cup broth, and using a sturdy spoon, scrape up any crusty bits from bottom of the skillet. Simmer until ale is reduced by half.

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4. Transfer quinoa to a large serving bowl and add remaining ½ tsp smoked paprika and ½ tsp chili powder. Add sliced sausages and pepper mixture, and toss to combine. Divide among plates and serve.

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