Wednesday, May 7, 2008


One of my favorite things, is to share new and unfamiliar ingredients and cooking ideas. About a year and a half ago I became familiar with a great new superfood, called quinoa. It quickly became one of my favorite things to eat. I love to add it to salads or eat on its own. I recently had the opportunity to teach an in-home cooking class for 9 women. I thought that by highlighting quinoa in one of the recipes, I could turn on even more people to this fantastic and yummy food. These delightfully adventurous ladies really seemed to enjoy this new food (to some of them) and all the nutrition highlights I shared with them that evening. I thought I would share with you.
An ancient “grain” from South America was once called “the gold of the Incas”. Considered a grain, quinoa is actually more closely related to beet, chard and spinach plants. Recent research shows that quinoa is one of the most complete foods in nature because it contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Quinoa seeds come in a variety colors including orange, pink, red, purple and black, although the most common color is yellow. After it is cooked it takes on the consistency of a grain (similar to couscous) and makes a great grain replacement. It is light and fluffy with a mild nutty flavor.

Quinoa is abundant in nutritional value. Quinoa is wheat and gluten free, making it a great substitute for those with wheat allergies/sensitivities. Quinoa is considered a complete protein, meaning that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that are required by the body for the building blocks of muscles. It is a very good source of magnesium and manganese, copper, B2, vitamin E and dietary fiber. Magnesium helps relax muscles, blood vessels and effects blood pressure (helps with migraines too!). Manganese and copper are important antioxidants that help eliminate cancer and disease causing substances. The high fiber content aids in colon health and helps regulate blood sugar. Other health benefits achieved from eating quinoa include prevention and treatment of artherosclerosis, breast cancer, diabetes, insulin resistance, gallstones, heart disease, and childhood asthma.
The best part is that quinoa is easy to prepare! It is prepared in the same manner of rice and only takes about 15 minutes. Make sure to rinse quinoa completely and set aside to drain. Measure out twice the amount of stock or water as you have quinoa and heat to a boil in a separate pan or kettle. While your liquid is heating to a boil, dry roast your quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until you start to smell a nutty aroma. Add the heated liquid to the quinoa, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat for 15 –20 minutes. When all liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork and serve.
Add quinoa to salads, soup, enjoy with sautéed veggies or as a replacement for your favorite breakfast grain.


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