This food may not be on your radar yet, but it should be– it is called quinoa (pronounced, KEEN-wah) and it’s native to South America. Quinoa can be utilized as a substitute for grains or pastas, although it’s actually a seed more closely related to spinach or beets. It has a slightly nutty flavor, and boils the same way as rice, with a 2-to-1 ratio of water to quinoa. It can be used in a variety of dishes as a replacement for rice or pasta, prepared as hot breakfast cereal, added to soups, and much more.
Nutritionally, quinoa has more protein than grain does, but also has a higher fat content (a large portion of that fat being monounsaturated, which is heart healthy). It’s considered a complete protein, because it’s high in essential amino acids like lysine(crucial for growing and repairing body tissues), and is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. Some of the nutritional benefits are dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese—plus it’s popular amongst vegans and those who are lactose intolerant because it’s a good source of calcium (twice the amount as in whole wheat). Additionally quinoa is gluten-free— it doesn’t even belong to the same plant family as wheat, barley, rye and oats.
Getting into more detailed health and wellness benefits, quinoa has been deemed an ally to migraine sufferers because of its high magnesium content, which helps relax blood vessels, thus also making it known to aid in reducing hypertension. Additionally, we know protein & fiber are two dietary essentials for the regulation of blood sugar and are both found in quinoa, so the effects of daily consumption of quinoa are being studied for the possible risk reduction of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, free radicals (which cause oxidation damage to the body) are removed by the S.O.D. enzymes (superoxide dismutase), which is an antioxidant that is synthesized through the manganese, copper and zinc (all found in quinoa), which—don’t lose me—is known to slow the effects of aging and eliminate cancer cells. With all these great nutritional/health benefits, why not try it!
One cup of cooked quinoa is about 222 calories, 39 carbs, 4g fat, 8g protein, 5g fiber. There are tons of great recipes out there on how to use this versatile food, so get to cooking, and let me know your favorite recipes!! Enjoy!