Quinoa (Yes! Quinoa) Tacos

Serves: 4

Tacos are a fun and tasty choice for get-togethers but did you know that they can be super healthy too? We’ve added lots of colourful veggies like orange bell pepper, tomato, and red onion to ours to make this meal balanced.  Our recipe uses quinoa too, which is a complete protein (the same way beef, poultry, and fish are) but plant-based, making it more environmentally friendly and a good choice for our Meatless Monday 🙂 Take a chance and make these tacos today, you won’t regret it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (180g) quinoa
  • 1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cumin
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 tortillas
  • Avocado (optional)
  • Black beans (optional)

Instructions

  1. Use strainer to rinse quinoa. Place in a saucepan over medium heat and allow to roast for 4 minutes.
  2. Add stock and water to quinoa and allow to boil. Bring heat down to low and cook quinoa covered with a lid for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  4. Remove quinoa mixture from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Add onion, bell pepper, tomato, lime juice, cumin, and chilli powder, to the quinoa mixture. Mix together well and place on a baking pan. Place in oven for 25 minutes until ingredients are crispy.
  6. Divide into four portions and place in soft- or hard-shell tacos. Happily serve 🙂

Nutritional Information (per serving):

250 kcal / 40g Carbohydrates (includes 6g Fibre) / 10g Protein / 3g Healthy Fats

Photo credit: Plays Well with Butter

Brilliant Black Bean Quesadillas

Serves: 4

This easy-to-make dish is a family favourite that we can’t wait to share with all of you 🙂. Quesadillas are a colourful addition to your weekly food plan – and a healthy one too! This strong source of protein is packed with veggies and cheese, making it not only a fun dinner choice but a complete meal option as well 😉. These are super quick to make so whip up a few for your family and friends and let us know what you think in the comments!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 can (17 oz/500 mL) black beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cumin
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) red chilli powder
  • 1 cup nonfat mozzarella cheese
  • 4 soft tortillas

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse black beans in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan on high heat. Add onions and stir until they start to become soft and almost clear in colour.
  3. Turn heat down to medium-high and add beans, corn, red pepper, as well as cumin and red chilli powder. Stir for about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove mixture and heat the first tortilla on the saucepan.  Add ¼ cup of your cheese on top along with ¼ of the mixture on half of the tortilla. Fold over the other half and cook until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Happily serve 🙂.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

350 kcal / 20g protein / 50g carbs / 6g healthy fats

Photo credit: Lauren Allgood, Pinterest

The Colourful Quinoa, Black Bean, and Veggie Bowl

With autumn finally here and the leaves changing colour, why not cozy up on the couch with a bowl of quinoa that’s as red and orange as the season itself? This recipe is chock full of protein, vitamin C, folate, and fibre. The best part? The balance of protein and healthy carbs makes it a wonderful meal item choice, so be generous and share this goodness with family and friends 😉

You will need:

  • 1 cup of quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup of canned black beans, drained and rinsed.
  • 1 cup of red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup of sweet corn
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup of green onion, chopped
  • ½ tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Add quinoa and 2 cups of water to a small pot.
  2. Cook quinoa over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil.
  3. Quickly lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain any excess fluid and place the remaining quinoa in a large bowl.
  4. Add drained and rinsed black beans, red peppers, sweet corn, grape tomatoes, and green onion to quinoa. Stir with large wooden spoon to combine ingredients together well.
  5. Prepare vinaigrette by combining lime juice, olive oil, and salt in a very small bowl. Whisk and add to the other ingredients.
  6. Divide into four and serve 😊

Nutritional information (per serving):

275 kcal / 11g protein / 46g carbohydrate / 6.5g fat

Photo credit: Marco Verch

What’s the Scoop on Collagen Powder?

Your skin covers your whole body and is a protective barrier from all sorts of environmental dangers [1]. Part of what makes your skin is a type of protein called collagen.

Collagen is a protein found in our skin, bones, joints, and other tissues to help maintain strength, structure, or elasticity [1]. There are different types of collagen:

  • Type I is found mostly in skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Type II found in cartilage and skin as well [2]. When our skin ages, it’s because the collagen in it is deteriorating. Type I is found mostly in skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Type III is typically found with Type I and is also a component of connective tissue [2].

I keep hearing about different types of collagen supplements. How are they different?  

The collagen supplements you may see in health food stores come from three major sources – chicken, bovine (from cows), and marine (from fish). Since cow and marine collagen are usually Type I, it is often recommended by professionals for healthier skin. Chicken collagen, which is usually Type II, has gotten attention in recent years for its rumoured role in joint health. 

Is it true that collagen levels decrease naturally over time?

Yes! As we age, your body breaks down collagen at a faster rate in your skin, bones, and joints. Here are a few signs you can begin to notice with time [3][4]:

  • Wrinkles on your skin
  • Aching muscles
  • Issues with your gut
  • Poor wound healing

I’ve noticed some of these things! Will collagen powder help me?

So you’ve noticed some wrinkles and are considering collagen supplements. The thing is, though, that consuming collagen supplements does not necessarily mean it will go straight to your skin (or joints) and make them healthier or stronger.

Let’s look at what happens in our body when we consume collagen supplements [5]:

As shown above, your body will decide where and how to use the amino acids broken down from your collagen powder supplement.

But what does the research say?

Good, unbiased research articles that show clear benefits to taking collagen supplements are few and far between. While waiting for more conclusive evidence to come through, it is important to remember that our bodies are amazing and actually make collagen naturally anyways! By consuming a balanced diet with enough protein and making sure you aren’t missing out on important vitamins and minerals, you will be able to give your body the tools to make the collagen you need.

So what’s needed to make collagen? 

Your body needs protein, vitamin C, and trace minerals like zinc, sulfur, and copper to make collagen. Let’s explore each one:

  • Vitamin C and other antioxidants not only help with making collagen but also protect it [5] [6]. It can be found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli. 
  • Zinc assists in the process of making collagen and also comes in handy with wound healing [6]. It is mostly found in meat, whole grains, pulses, and seafood, so consider foods like bran cereal, pumpkin seeds, baked beans, organ meats, and even oysters for some natural sources of this important mineral.
  • Sulfur as part of glutathione prevents the breakdown of collagen in your body [7]. It can mostly be found in protein foods and things like onion and garlic. If you’ve ever wondered what makes these foods taste and smell the way they do, sulfur is your answer!
  • Copper is a major player in building collagen. It can be found in organ meats and seafood such as lobster and oysters [8]. For those hoping to avoid animal products, sesame seeds contain some copper as well. Vitamin C and other antioxidants not only help with making collagen but also protect it. It can be found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli. 
In conclusion…

Collagen production is actually quite simple: by eating a well balanced diet and a variety of healthy foods, you can ensure that you’ll get all the nutrients your body needs naturally. And most of all, you won’t have to spend money on supplements 😉

Until next time,

Huda Amareh, MAHN, RD & Almas-Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD

*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualized nutrition counselling session, please contact us at amananutrition@gmail.com or visit our Contact Us page to book your first appointment.

References:

[1] Vollmer, D., West, V., & Lephart, E. (2018). Enhancing skin health: By oral administration of natural compounds and minerals with implications to the dermal microbiome. International journal of molecular sciences19(10), 3059.

[2] Ricard-Blum, S. (2011). The collagen family. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 3(1), a004978.

[3] Avila Rodriguez, M. I., Rodriguez Barroso, L. G., & Sánchez, M. L. (2018). Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 17(1), 20-26.

[4] Rangaraj, A., Harding, K., & Leaper, D. (2011). Role of collagen in wound management. Wounds uk, 7(2), 54-63.

[5] Murad, S., Grove, D., Lindberg, K. A., Reynolds, G., Sivarajah, A., & Pinnell, S. R. (1981). Regulation of collagen synthesis by ascorbic acid. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 78(5), 2879-2882.

[6] Bishop, A., Witts, S., & Martin, T. (2018). The role of nutrition in successful wound healing. Journal of Community Nursing, 32(4).

[7] Liu, R. M., Liu, Y., Forman, H. J., Olman, M., & Tarpey, M. M. (2004). Glutathione regulates transforming growth factor-β-stimulated collagen production in fibroblasts. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 286(1), L121-L128.

[8] Harris, E. D., Rayton, J. K., Balthrop, J. E., DiSilvestro, R. A., & Garcia-de-Quevedo, M. (1980). Copper and the synthesis of elastin and collagen. In Ciba Foundation Symposium (Vol. 79, pp. 163-182).