If you haven’t seen or heard of quinoa before, you are not alone. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah or kee-no-uh) is an indigenous plant of South America and often used by locals as an energy food that once used by warriors to stay strong in long journeys and battles. The Incas treated quinoa as a sacred plant, and it was a staple food for hundreds of year. It has a crunchy texture and mild nutty flavor. Quinoa is actually seeds, but it is often treated like grain. It’s closely related to another superfood, spinach. Quinoa is less well-known than wheat, oats, or other popular grains, but it is an amazing superfood with a good deal of health benefits and you should eat quinoa once or twice a week.
Understanding Quinoa’s Amazing Benefits
Quinoa is an excellent protein source and contains all essential amino acids (useful for vegans and vegetarians). One cup of ready-to-eat quinoa has nearly 10 grams of protein or twice the amount of protein found in other cereal grains, it also has 5 grams of fiber, for just 220 calories.
Quinoa is also a good source of beneficial minerals, including copper, manganese, iron, and magnesium, plus B-complex vitamins. All of these trace elements and nutrients are necessary in chemical reactions for producing energy out of your foods. Quinoa also offers potassium and good fats that are beneficial for your blood pressure and heart.
By adding quinoa in your daily diet, you can enjoy these health benefits:
Keeping your gastrointestinal system healthy: It offers plenty of insoluble fiber, which helps in regulating bowel movements. This type of fiber can’t dissolve in the water and passes through your intestinal tract to help move stool efficiently through the colon. Good bowel activities reduce the risk of gas, pain, and bloating associated with the lack of fiber. It also lowers the possibility of small pouches formation at weak spots found on the intestine.
Reducing the likelihood of gallstones formation: Fiber was found to reduce the bile acids secretion which reduces the chance of gallstone formation. A major study showed a 20 percent reduction of gallstones among those who consumed large amount of fiber.
Getting more energy and antioxidants: Copper and manganese both help in the superoxide dismutase production, an important enzyme that helps in fighting off cellular damages throughout our body. This antioxidant activities help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, and any inflammatory condition. Quinoa contains large amount of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which is essential in energy production.
Relieving migraines: Magnesium found in quinoa makes it a good food for treating migraines. This mineral can make your blood vessels more relaxed, which is an important factor in dealing with vascular headaches.
Help in diet program: The combination of fiber and protein in quinoa makes it a very filling food. A research showed that quinoa offer more satisfaction index compared to other grains like wheat and rice, so eating quinoa regularly may allow you keep those hunger pangs at bay.
Dealing With Quinoa
Although quinoa isn’t too popular, it really isn’t hard to find. Certain major grocery chains offer pre-packaged quinoa near oatmeal and other cereals; while others put it in the same shelf with couscous and rice. Most natural foods stores offer quinoa in bulk or in packages. You may also use foods made from quinoa, such as cookies, tortillas, crackers, pasta, and other baked products. After you open a bag of quinoa, you should keep it inside an airtight container and put it in a cool, dry place. Refrigerated quinoa can stay fresh for up to six months.
Before cooking, thoroughly rinse quinoa seeds using a colander to get rid of saponin residues that cause bitter taste. In the wild, Saponin, a bitter covering, is important to repel insects. It’s mostly removed during the processing phase, however you may need to rinse your quinoa to get rid of residues. When cooking quinoa, you can cook it in the boiling water, until it looks transparent – for about fifteen minutes. Use two parts water to one part quinoa – until the seeds expand. When cooking quinoa, the surrounding germ is pulled off and a small tail appears. A unique feature of cooked quinoa is soft grain and crunchy tail.
Quinoa is served hot just like oatmeal along with nuts, fresh berries, chia, or flax, and a little cream or milk. Quinoa is also great when served as side dish, like rice for Western people. To make it tastier, you can cook quinoa with spices and chicken broth. You should also add chopped cooked mushrooms, onions, or any other cooked veggies to make a healthful and delicious pilaf. Quinoa is easily grown in container garden. Quinoa sprouts are quite appetizing and great for seasoning in salads and soups.