You’ve probably seen quinoa everywhere. It’s hailed as a superfood. But did you ever wonder why?
Quinoa is a powerhouse of nutrition in a tiny package. It’s versatile and can be cooked like a grain or ground into a flour.
It has a long shelf life so it’s useful to keep on hand in case of emergencies. And it’s easy to find.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa is considered an ancient grain. It was cultivated in South America by the Incas. But what you may not know is that quinoa isn’t really a grain.
It’s a seed like sesame seeds.
And what’s more amazing is that there are now over 120 different types of quinoa available?
The most common varieties are white, red, and black.
Why Is Quinoa Good for You?
Quinoa is a versatile food that provides many of the nutrients our bodies need to thrive. It’s inexpensive and can support your goals to be more plant-based.
Let’s look at more of the specifics.
For those who are living gluten-free, you can enjoy this grain in a variety of ways.
It can be ground into a flour and baked into bread, pitas, or tortillas. You can even find quinoa pasta.
Quinoa is a complete protein. That means it has sufficient amounts of the nine essential amino acids.
We humans need twenty different amino acids to keep our bodies healthy and functioning normally. We can produce all but nine of them.
The nine essential amino acids are lysine, histidine, threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan.
Amino acids build muscles, create chemical reactions in the body, prevent illnesses, transport nutrients and pretty much keep our systems running.
What happens if I don’t get the nine amino acids?
An amino acid deficiency can lead to a host of disorders including digestive problems, depression, reduced mental capacity, lowered immune systems, and anxiety.
An example is the amino acid valine. Valine is used for mental focus, emotional peace, muscle growth, tissue repair, and muscle coordination.
If you’re deficient in Valine, you may suffer from insomnia which worsens mental focus.
Another example is phenylalanine. This may sound familiar since it’s often in artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Phenylalanine is used by your body to process other amino acids, enzymes, and proteins. An enzyme is a protein that also works as a catalyst. And protein is made up of amino acids.
When you have too much phenylalanine, you feel more anxious. When you have too little, it can cause eczema, fatigue and lack of focus.
Quinoa is essential for plant-based diets
If you’re vegan or vegetarian or plant-based, quinoa provides you with 8 grams of protein per cup. It’s a complete protein, and it’s full of fiber and other essential nutrients.
Full of Nutrients
Quinoa is high in fiber, iron, potassium, calcium magnesium, Vitamins B, E, and phosphorus as well as antioxidants.
The antioxidants are flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol. They’ve been shown in medical studies to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer properties.
Low Glycemic Index
If you have insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes, you’re watching your blood sugar. With a low glycemic index, quinoa will fill you up without causing any blood sugar spikes and crashes making you more hungry.
Quinoa is not low carbohydrate, though. So if you’re concerned about that, this may not be the best protein source for you.
Some Questions About Quinoa
Let’s answer the questions you have about this mighty seed.
Are there any other grains that are similar?
Yes, and you can rotate through all of them to keep your food fun and fresh. You can get similar nutrition from teff, amaranth, and buckwheat.
Why would I want to go plant-based?
We’re finding out more information about how a balanced diet can be better for us as well as for the environment.
What does quinoa taste like?
Quinoa has a nutty taste like brown rice does. It has a fluffy texture like couscous.
Quinoa tends to take on the flavors of what you add. So if you have a favorite sauce, use that and the quinoa will add protein and fiber.
How to Prepare Quinoa
Quinoa is quick and easy to prepare.
One mistake people often make when preparing quinoa is forgetting to rinse it before cooking. There’s is a coating on the outside that needs to be washed off otherwise the grain tastes bitter.
Most people who don’t like quinoa are turned off by the coating which is also called saponin.
While you can cook it in water, some people prefer it cooked in stock or broth to give it more flavor. If you cook in water, make sure you add some good salt to the water.
You can cook a lot of quinoa and serve some of it as a pilaf for one meal, and then add it cold to a salad for another.
Add cooked quinoa to soup to boost protein and fiber.
Want a high protein breakfast? You can make quinoa into a porridge.
There are so many wonderful recipes out there for you to try. Use your favorite search engine, or go find a cooking site online and search for recipes.
A Delicious Recipe for You
Quinoa Crusted Chicken
Who’s tried this delicious meal? We love it!
• 3 to 4 organic chicken breasts fillets
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• ½ cup gluten-free flour (corn, quinoa, millet, arrowroot)
• 1 cup quinoa flakes
• salt and pepper to taste
• seasoning approx. 1 tablespoon of your favorite herbs and spices (example a mix of paprika, sumac, cumin or ground coriander)
• extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- Slice chicken breast fillets into even sizes
- In bowl number one add flour, salt, and pepper, in bowl number two add egg and into the third add quinoa flakes and seasoning.
- One at a time dips each piece of the chicken first flower, second egg and third quinoa flakes making sure each piece is well coated, set aside till all pieces are coated.
- Cook chicken in a pan with a little oil over medium heat for approx. 5 min on each side or until cooked through.
- This chicken works perfectly with the Mediterranean Broccoli Salad, Red Cabbage Slaw or Detox Salad.
- If you are looking for a healthy sauce try the Guacamole or Tahini Dressing.
TIP: Use one hand for the wet ingredients, and one hand for
the dry ingredients to reduce mess.