More often these days when we see articles about the so-called “Super Foods” that are good for us and provide excellent health benefits (walnuts for their omega-3 fatty acid, avocados for their good fats and vitamin E, dark chocolate (yeah!) for its antioxidant flavonoids, which reduce the inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease etc.) we see Quinoa mentioned. But until recently we were a little intimidated to pronounce the word, let alone cook with it.
Thankfully we got over that. The word is pronounced keen-wa, and it is a pseudocereal closely related to beets and spinach. The Incas referred to quinoa as the “mother of all grains”, and we wonder if that is because of its nutritional benefits. The good news is that mainstream grocery stores have caught on to the benefits and popularity of quinoa and are stocking in on their shelves. You won’t have to go too far afield to find it.
Quinoa is a great source of protein, and contains a balanced set of amino acids (unlike wheat and rice, which are low in lysine). It’s a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free, which makes it a great alternative food source for those with wheat or gluten allergies.
So now, what do you do with quinoa?
Well, first of all, it’s a great substitute for rice. Anytime you’re planning to have rice on the side of a meal, try some quinoa instead. It’s easy to prepare too:
• simply bring 2/3 cup water to boil
• add 1/3 cup quinoa
• turn off the heat under the pot
• stir the quinoa in the water briefly
• put the lid on the pot and leave stand for 30 minutes.
(If you increase the recipe, simply always use double the amount of water to the amount of quinoa you’re using.)
One of our favorite ways to eat quinoa is to prepare what we call “Quinoa Salad”, which is essentially a tabouleh recipe that uses quinoa instead of bulgar wheat. (Google ‘tabouleh’ and find a recipe that you like.) It keeps well in the fridge and can be eaten cold as a side salad. We often top it just before eating with slivered almonds and a bit of feta cheese.
Yum! Healthy eating never tasted so good.
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