Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a seed high in amino acids, minerals and vitamins, in particular manganese and magnesium. Cooked, it has a creamy, fluffy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor. Some people consider it to be an almost perfect food!
Recently rediscovered as an ancient "grain" once touted the “gold of the Incas,” it is actually a relative of leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach.
warriors of South America believed that quinoa increased their stamina. The beauty of quinoa is that it is a complete protein, which supplies all nine essential amino acids.
Quinoa is especially high in the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Other elements abundantly supplied by quinoa are manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.
Because quinoa is so high in magnesium it has the ability to relax blood vessels and is great for cardiovascular health (especially for postmenopausal women) as well as reduces the frequency in migraine headaches.
Since it is a very low-glycemic food, quinoa is also of great value to diabetics. Due to it’s high fiber content, and low glycemic value, it breaks down slowly and doesn’t cause extreme surges in blood sugar levels.
Due to its low gluten content, quinoa is one of the least allergenic “grains,” yet if quinoa flour is combined with wheat flour, it is possible to make leavened baked goods. Quinoa flour can also be used to make pasta, which is available at many natural foods stores.
Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches much like alfalfa sprouts.
Stored in an airtight container and refrigerated, quinoa will keep for up to six months.
To prepare quinoa, remove any remaining saponin residue on quinoa seeds with a thorough washing. Run cold water over quinoa placed in a fine-meshed strainer and gently rub the seeds together with your hands. Taste a few seeds to see if they’re still bitter and continue to wash accordingly.
To cook quinoa, add one part of the seeds to two parts liquid in a saucepan. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer for a few minutes and switch off the stove and steam covered.
When cooked, the “grains” become translucent, with the white germ partially detaching itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail. To make quinoa nuttier in flavor, you can dry roast it over medium-low heat and then add the liquid.
Some serving suggestions include making a quinoa salad by combining cooked, chilled quinoa with beans, pumpkin seeds, green onions and fresh coriander.
Add quinoa to your vegetable soups like you would grains such as barely or oats. Or make a wheat-free tabouli, following a traditional recipe.
Nuts and fruits can be added to cooked quinoa and served much like breakfast porridge.
Quinoa’s nutritional value, health benefits and versatility can very possibly make it one of nature’s perfect foods!