Quinoa, pronounced keen’-wah, is often called a super grain, but is actually a seed. It is the perfect vegetarian food because of its high protein content, along with all eight of the essential amino acids our bodies require but can’t produce on their own. It’s low in fat and a good source of dietary fiber. Many consider it one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Anyone on a weight-loss regimen or just looking to improve the quality of their diet should definitely add a little quinoa to their food mix.
When cooked it has a creamy texture with 159 calories per quarter cup serving. This serving contains over 5 grams of protein, less than 2.5 grams of fat, and 2.5 grams of fiber. It can be used in a variety of ways.
Other Health Benefits
Almost 1 mg of manganese comes with each serving of quinoa. Manganese is important in the processing of key nutrients like thiamin, glucose and fatty acids by the body.
Magnesium is another essential nutrient present in quinoa. It helps maintain strong bones and nerve function. It also assists in controlling high blood pressure and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Phosphorus is also contained in quinoa, and it also supports the skeletal structure by processing calcium as well as vitamin K.
Over 2 mgs of niacin are contained in a serving of quinoa. This is only part of the daily requirement, but is an important one in lowering cholesterol.
A tiny quantity of tryptophan, an important amino acid, helps assure proper nitrogen balances in the body.
Other vitamins contained in quinoa are folate, a B vitamin, and vitamin E. Folate, or folic acid, assists in cancer prevention and processing of an essential amino acid. Vitamin E builds healthy red blood cells, as well as skin, hair and nails. It’s also an excellent antioxidant.
Other mineral nutrients include iron and copper. Without enough iron and anemia can result, but quinoa will help combat this deficiency by providing almost 4 mgs per serving. Trace amounts of copper act as an antioxidant while also assisting in the building of hemoglobin, another protection from anemia.
How to Cook Quinoa
Quinoa seeds can be cooked in water, like oatmeal or other whole grains. When so cooked, each seed increases in side by three or four times. Toasting them before cooking can add a nice, nutty flavor to the finished dish. It mixes nicely with other ingredients, and is especially complementary with rice, beans, stews and similar dishes.
For a side dish or a hot cereal, add a cup of rinsed quinoa to 2 cups of boiling water or stock. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or a little more. Let it stand for a couple minutes, then fluff it as you would rice. Add milk for a creamy hot cereal, or if used as a side dish add salt and pepper to taste. Flavor can be further enhanced by adding raisins, nuts, garlic, onions, herbs or spices. This recipe makes three one-cup servings.
Quinoa is also a great addition to soups and stews. It not only adds flavor and a huge nutritional punch, but it also acts as a thickening agent. A soup or stew made with a healthy dose of quinoa provides the nutrients of an entire meal at a fraction of the calories.
“Cooking Quinoa,” http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t–1367/cooking-quinoa.asp