Quinoa, an Ancient Grain (Seed) – Highlights:
This grain is a “rediscovered” grain that has many health benefits. This ancient food was once considered to be “the gold of the Incas” and is finding its way back into the modern diet. People who want a grain that is less allergenic than wheat and as versatile as rice should consider quinoa.
It is technically a seed, although it looks like a grain. It is the seed of a green leafy plant. When you cook this it becomes fluffy with a bit of a crunch. It is truly a uniquely textured food that many people enjoy when they first encounter it. When the seeds are cooked, the shell of the grain (seed) separates from the center, creating the dual texture. It has a nutty flavor and is a perfect substitute for rice or pasta.
It comes in several different varieties including yellow, orange, pink, red, purple and black. The most common variety is the yellow kind, which becomes semi transparent when cooked. The leaves of the plant are also edible and nutritious, although they are sometimes hard to find.
Quinoa is a “super grain” because it has so many healthy benefits. It contains all of the essential amino acids in addition to lots of iron, potassium and B vitamins. It’s a great option for vegetarians because it offers nutrients that most people get from meat.
The protein is complete protein. It includes all nine essential amino acids, and has a high concentration of lysine. Lysine is necessary for tissue growth and repair and is especially necessary if you lead an active lifestyle.
The seed provides high concentrations of calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper and phosphorus. Since they are seeds instead of grains, they have a higher good fat content. The fats are heart healthy and beneficial for brain functioning.
Help Curb Cravings
Unlike other grains, eating it won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you craving more carbohydrates. The fat and protein content in it are balanced with the carbohydrates, so it will leave you full and satisfied. It will fill you up and keep you fuller for longer than rice, pasta or breads.
How to Cook
Quinoa makes a quick meal and is easy to prepare. Rinse off the seeds to remove the coating, and then place the seeds in a pot (2 parts quinoa to 1 part water). The seeds cook in about fifteen minutes. They can also be prepared in a rice cooker. Adding broth instead of water or adding veggies is a great way to liven up the flavor of the dish.
The flour is an easy way to get more of the grain into your diet. Since it is gluten-free, it makes a great substitution for people with celiac disease or those who just want to get the benefits of the grain. In order for bread and other baked goods to bake properly, you can only substitute 75% quinoa flour for wheat flour. So if a recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, you can use three-quarters of a cup of the flour and a quarter of a cup of wheat flour. Even with this mixture, you’ll still be reaping the rewards of eating a healthy grain.
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