Over 5000 years ago the Incas cultivated the grain-like seed quinoa as one of their staple crops.
Now science has shown that this humble “grain” is actually a superfood!
Quinoa is full of phytonutrients, antioxidants AND can even help balance your blood sugar.
As a result, people everywhere are discovering the benefits of quinoa, a delicious whole “grain” that is easy to digest, full of high quality protein and fibre, and can form the basis for delicious meals.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a grain; it is actually a seed and related to the spinach family. When cooked, quinoa is light, fluffy, slightly crunchy and subtly flavored. It actually cooks and tastes like a grain, making it an excellent replacement for grains that are difficult to digest or feed candida (a systemic fungal infection).
But its flavor is only part of why quinoa is such an amazing “supergrain.”
Some of the nutrients in quinoa include:
- Complete protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles.
- Magnesium helps relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure. Quinoa contains high levels of this vital nutrient.
- Fiber. Quinoa is a wonderful way to ensure that you consume valuable fiber that eases elimination and tones your colon.
- Manganese and copper. Quinoa is a good source of these minerals that act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances.
Compared to other grains, quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn.
Studies have shown that quinoa has documented health benefits too!
Quinoa, in its whole grain form, may be effective in preventing and treating these conditions:
- Breast cancer
- Insulin resistance
Researchers attribute the health benefits of quinoa to its complete nutritional makeup.
Quinoa is close to one of the most complete foods in nature because it contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Quinoa is an ideal food staple because it does not feed fungal and bacterial infections in your body.
Quinoa has other qualities that make it an ideal “grain”:
- Quinoa acts as a prebiotic that feeds the microflora (good bacteria) in your intestines.
- Quinoa is easily digested for optimal absorption of nutrients.
- Quinoa is gluten-free and safe for those with gluten intolerance, people on a celiac diet, and for anyone with digestive or energy deficiencies
Cook it once, eat it four times
Quinoa is especially easy to cook and can be enjoyed year-round because it’s versatile and light. You can use it in warming winter soups or refreshing summer salads.
The easiest way to enjoy the benefits of quinoa on a busy schedule is too cook up a big pot of it and use it for several different meals over the week. Cooked quinoa will keep well for 5 days if covered and refrigerated.
Quinoa can also be bought ready-cooked in handy packets if you are super busy. It costs more this way, but it can be a useful store cupboard standby.
Cook 250 grams of Quinoa
Be sure to rinse your quinoa really well – quinoa, like every grain, has a coating of natural pesticide and rinsing helps to remove this. Ideally, rinse and then soak for at least an hour before cooking to remove the most of this natural substance and maximize the nutrient availability.
If you soak your quinoa it will take less cooking time.
The general rule for liquid twice the amount of liquid to grain: 1 cup of quinoa requires approx. 2 cups of liquid.
This may need reducing for soaked grain. Experiment until you get it the way you want it!
An easy substitution
Use as a healthier substitute for rice with curry, chilli, etc. Stir in some chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or coriander for extra health benefits and flavor.
Qinoa makes a great substitute for fried rice dishes. My favourite is shitake mushrooms, ginger,garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes and soy/tamari sauce.
Assemble the night before for convenience.
Eat cold or heated.
You can really get creative with ingredients, adding any leftover meat and roasted vegetables.
This example was made with sliced fresh sugar snap peas, spring onions, courgettes, parsley and sliced roasted sweet peppers.
Also consider sautéed mushrooms and even strips of cooked pancetta.
Make a delicious porridge with cooked quinoa soaked overnight in milk or almond milk. You can make it fresh in the morning if you forget to prepare the night before.
Add your favourite ingredients.
Sweeten with coconut blossom granules, agave syrup, honey, natural stevia, maple syrup or sugar.
This example was soaked overnight in almond milk with whole chia seeds added which ‘plump up’ overnight and add extra nutrients and keep you full for longer. A pear was grated into the mixture in the morning and finished off with fresh blueberries & toasted almond flakes.
One of my favourites is curried quinoa patties.
Bake a whole sweet potato, scoop out flesh & mash with fork.
Add finely chopped onion, herbs & curry powder
Add a cup of cooked quinoa
Shape into small patties and place on a grease proof paper lined baking tray.
Bake in a medium temp oven for 15 minutes or until slightly browned.
Eat warm or cold.
You can make these with whatever flavour combinations you like. Even breakfast patties made with bacon bits and finely chopped boiled eggs!