Quinoa: The Super Grain
In an effort to eat a healthier diet, most people turn to brown rice as a substitute for white rice. If you’re ready to explore and expand your options beyond brown rice quinoa is a very valuable addition to your diet.
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) hails its super grain status from its rich nutritional content. Grown for thousands of years in the South American Andes it was called “the mother grain” by the Incas. Although commonly referred to as a grain, pseudo grains such as quinoa are actually seeds with grain-like qualities. There are hundreds of varieties of quinoa, ranging in color from white to red and purple to black. The most commonly found variety is a pale yellow, with red quinoa also becoming more readily available. The tiny bead shaped grains have a mild, slightly nutty taste with a firm texture. It can be cooked the same way as rice but it will quadruple in size, becoming translucent with an unusual white outer ring.
This nutrient dense super food contains more high quality protein than any other grain and more calcium than milk. Considered a complete protein, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids making it an ideal choice for vegetarians who are concerned about adequate protein intake. It has the additional benefit of being high in the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. It is particularly valuable for people with Celiac Disease as it is gluten-free.
Quinoa is conveniently fast cooking so it can easily be used as a side dish instead of potatoes or rice. You can also use it to make warm or cold salads, pilafs, casseroles, stuffings, puddings and breakfast cereals. Although most packaged quinoa has already been cleaned, rinsing the seeds thoroughly is recommended as they are naturally coated with saponin, a bitter soap-like substance that protects it from birds and insects. Quinoa is generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Look for it in the natural foods department of your grocery or health food store.