Five years ago, I had never heard of quinoa (pronounced Keenwah), but today I eat quinoa at least once a week. I would imagine you have all heard of quinoa by now, even if you haven't eaten it quite yet. While quinoa may be new to our plates, the Incas began eating quinoa as their staple food over 5000 years ago in South America. The Incas called it "the mother of all grains". Quinoa is widely considered to be a whole grain, but it is actually a seed from a plant related to the weed, goosefoot. Quinoa is now called a superfood by many because it is high in antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
BENEFITS OF QUINOA
(1) Quinoa is high in vitamins and minerals and blows the competition (corn, potatoes, wheat, and rice) out of the water with nutritional benefits. Quinoa is chock-full of micro-nutrients. It is a good source of manganese, copper, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper and zinc.
(2) Quinoa is a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids required by the body to build muscle. Essential amino acids are those that our body can not produce on our own so we need to get them from our food.
(3) Quinoa is a great source of fiber to keep that digestion operating and moving well.
(4) Quinoa is gluten free and so it is a great option for anyone with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Truth be told, everyone should have less gluten in their diet.
(5) Quinoa is easily digestible.
(6) Quinoa may be an effective way to use food as your medicine when preventing and treating certain diseases such as diabetes, insulin resistance, and some forms of cancer.
HOW TO COOK QUINOA
I hear people say all the time that they don't know how to cook quinoa. Well, I am here to tell you that if you know how to cook rice, pasta, or cous cous, then you know how to cook quinoa. The general rule is 1 cup of uncooked quinoa to 2 cups of liquid (either water or vegetable stock). One way to boost the nutritional value of quinoa and to make it even more digestible is to soak and sprout your quinoa before cooking it. What I usually do is soak my quinoa overnight in water. Then, in the morning, I drain the quinoa, rinse and put it back in the bowl and let it sit on the counter in the sun until the evening when I am ready to cook it. If you let it sit long enough you will actually see little sprouts popping out of the seeds. Many people don't even cook sprouted quinoa and instead eat it raw.
One of the best parts of quinoa is that it's flavor is very mild, so it will taste good with anything. My kids' favorite way to eat quinoa is with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese as if it was pasta. Here are some of my favorite quinoa recipes. Enjoy!