I don’t know if you’re familiar with quinoa, but if you’re not – or you’ve only heard of the name – you should know it is a genuine superfood. One of the things that make this food so special is that it is so rich in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that your body needs. Soy and quinoa are the only plant based foods that have all the amino acids.
Pronounced “KEEN-wah,” quinoa, native to Bolivia, Peru, and Chile was a staple food of the Incas in South America for thousands of years. Considered a gluten-free grain, it is actually the seed from the Chenopodium plant and is a relative of Swiss chard, beets and spinach. Quinoa grows in the mountains on stalks that are three to nine feet tall. Today, Peru is the largest producer and it is also grown in Rockies of Colorado and Canada.
Quinoa comes in different colors, mostly white, red and black. I don’t think there are any big differences in taste – they are all very lightly crunchy with a little nutty flavor, but there might be a slightly different cooking time amongst the colors. Quinoa is also sold as flakes to be used as a breakfast cereal and as flour for baking.
So besides being high in protein, what else does this terrific seed-grain have to offer?
High in Flavonoids
Flavonoids, which are plant metabolites, have anti-inflammatory properties.
High in Magnesium
This mineral is important for bone growth and nerve function.
Rich Source of B Vitamins
Important for cell metabolism and the production of red blood cells.
High in Potassium
One of the body’s main electrolytes, two of the important things this mineral does is help with the electrical activity of the heart and regulate the body’s pH.
Good Source of Iron
Iron is needed for our cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. When you don’t have enough iron you becomes anemic.
High in Vitamin E
This vitamin’s main role is as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E also plays an important part in the immune system.
High Fiber Content
Foods high in fiber make you feel full faster, thus helping in weight loss. Fiber also helps reduce constipation and is important for your gut health.
Low Glycemic Index
Consuming quinoa raises the blood sugar slowly, which makes it an excellent food those watching their blood glucose levels.
High in Zinc
This trace element is important in boosting the immune system.
High in Manganese
This important mineral is good for healthy bones, skin and blood sugar maintenance.
Loaded with Antioxidants
Antioxidants are said to inhibit or prevent diseases and cancers.
Quinoa can be used as a breakfast cereal, side dish, main dish or in baking. And it can be eaten cold or hot. There are about 172 calories in ¼ cup of it dry quinoa.
Countless recipes can be found for cooking with quinoa. My favorite is with mushrooms, garlic and chives. Here is the recipe:
1 cup quinoa
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 or 6 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan if desired
Cook the quinoa. Saute the garlic, mushrooms, thyme and chives in 1 one tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Stir in cooked quinoa and add salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan if desired. Enjoy!