It seems to be all the rage lately, so why eat quinoa? What is it and what benefits come with eating it?
While it's been popping up on menus and in supermarkets everywhere over the last few years, you may not know much about it and what nutrients your body may get from quinoa.
It's popping up on menus and in grocery markets everywhere, but what's so great about quinoa? Image courtesy of Max Straeton/morguefile
Two great reasons to cook with quinoa are quite simply:
1.It's packed full of nutrients. Eating quinoa provides you protein, calcium, good carbs, vitamin E, fibre, healthy fats, and more nutrients that will help you reduce weight, build up muscles, and live a healthy lifestyle.
For thousands of years quinoa has been used and revered by the Incas of South America. Even now, quinoa is a staple in the South American diet.
Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has a balanced composition of the essential amino acids, helping in growth and development, as well as repair of damaged tissues.
Aside from that, quinoa is rich in minerals. One of them is calcium which we all know, makes our bones strong and healthy, even as we age.
Quinoa, in many places of South America is served as a complete dish, but more often you'll find it matched with all types of foods. Image credit: Max Straeton/morguefile
Quinoa is a high energy food due to its carbohydrate content. The good news is these are good carbs, which means they are slow-releasing, reducing your craving for food (especially junk foods). It is also good for diabetics since low release carbohydrates are known to help correct the levels of sugar in our blood.
For those keen on young-looking skin, quinoa contains a variety of vitamin E relatives. These nutrient are anti-oxidants which fight free radicals, and may lower your risk of developing cancer.
Finally, but definitely not the least, is fibre. Although quinoa is not really a grain, but a gluten free seed from the Chenopodium plant, it is high in insoluble fibre. It will aid digestion and help regulate bowel movements.
Another good thing to know about insoluble fibre is that can help women prevent gallstones. A high fibre diet has also been shown to help prevent breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.
2. Quinoa is easy to prepare. Not only is it a very good substitute for rice, bread or cereals, quinoa is very easy to cook as it is prepared the same way as rice. For every cup of quinoa, you need to add two cups of water. Then you need to bring this combination to a boil then gently simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.
Also it's easy to prepare in a rice cooker if you simply treat quinoa like rice. Add two parts water to one part quinoa, stir, cover, and when the cooker shuts off, the quinoa is done.
It is important that you wash and drain quinoa before you cook to remove the bitter resin-like coating.
Quinoa has a nutty flavor, and is both chewy and crunchy at the same time. It can be used to replace any grain, in soups or in pilafs. At present, quinoa is also made into pasta, bread and other baked goods. In place of croutons, add quinoa to your salad for that extra bite. When added to soups, stews or casseroles, they make them more satisfying and nutritious. Try a quinoa stir-fry with vegetables and beans for a fibre-packed, protein-filled dish.
You'll find plenty of ways (and even more recipes online) to use quinoa and add this nutritious food to your diet.
Whilst I agree with your reasons to eat quinoa, I would like to share a word of caution about it that I think you could have highlighted in your article - you need to be very careful where your quinoa has been grown, as the export trade from South America is now harming the locals there. If at all possible, you should try to get fair trade or even local-to-you quinoa.