By Taber Maier
It’s a brand new year and many will have their top resolution being getting in better shape/health. So I thought I’d share what could help you make all your health and nutrition goals a lot easier.
2014, is the year of Quinoa – there I said it!
What is quinoa and what is it good for with your nutritional and fitness goals?
Quinoa is usually consumed in the same way as cereal grasses like wheat and oats but it’s actually not a cereal grass at all, rather it’s part of the same family as contains spinach and beets. Researchers date the popularity of quinoa to 3000 BC , widespread in the Andes mountains regions of South America. Betacyanin pigments present in some quinoa leaves give them their reddish color, but it’s also possible to find orange, pink, purple, black, and most common tan quinoa as well. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, with a translucent appearance once cooked. The flavor of the cooked seeds is delicate and somewhat nutty.
Perhaps the most important health benefit provided by quinoa is its overall nutrient richness. While quinoa is often eaten similar to grains, it has many nutritional components that grains lack. Quinoa has significant amounts of lysine and isoleucine that allow the protein in quinoa to serve as a a complete protein source. Most grains lack adequate amounts of the amino acids lysine and isoleucine.
In terms of fat content, quinoa once again provides a higher amount of certain health supportive fats. It takes nearly 350 calories of whole wheat to provide 1 gram of fat that doesn’t even qualify as a health supportive fat. In contrast, quinoa takes only 63 calories worth of quinoa to provide 1 gram of healthy monounsaturated fats.
These are just a few of the health benefits of quinoa that also includes an adamant amount of vitamin E, anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Animal studies have already demonstrated the ability of quinoa to lower total cholesterol and help maintain levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). The low allergy potential of quinoa coupled with its relatively high digestibility has also made it a food to be considered for children and toddlers.
To cook quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid (water, chicken broth) in a saucepan. After it’s brought to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover it. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes for the water to dissolve and your quinoa will be translucent in appearance when finished. Quinoa is a perfect food to include on a gluten free diet since it doesn’t even belong in the same family as oats, barley, or rye. Quinoa is very versatile and can be added to salads, eaten for breakfast with fruit, soups, used in many recipes as a substitute for oats and other wheat options. I prefer to use it as a rice substitute and side dish that can have pretty much anything you desire added to it. (see pics of different quinoa dishes)
Considered in combination, these diverse nutrient benefits of quinoa give it a uniqueness among grain related foods. It’s high level of nourishment and health benefits qualify it as the greatest health food option for 2014.
So till the next the time folks, I wish you good health and would love to hear your feedback on this very special superfood.