Maybe you’ve seen it in the supermarket shelf and you’re not sure what to make of it. Or maybe you’ve heard about it from someone as THE food for losing weight, for fighting migraine, for preventing heart disease and so on. Quinoa is certainly making itself known in a big way. This little seed is packed with so many good things, it is certainly worth the effort to get to know this wonder food.
Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is a superfood that is set to conquer the world! It is harvested from the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant, which got its name from the shape of its leaves. Most people mistakenly think that quinoa is part of the grains family. But actually, it is a member of the grass family. It is considered a ‘pseudo-cereal’ and is closely related to beets and spinach. Aside from the seeds of this plant, the leaves are also edible, although not as widely available or consumed as the quinoa seeds.
Quinoa Nutrition Facts
This amazing food is being hailed for its nutritional value. A look at the quinoa nutrition facts will reveal why this whole food is widely celebrated. Here are some of its nutritional benefits:
- It is an excellent source of magnesium. 1 serving of quinoa can meet 48% of the daily value that we need.
- It is rich in magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper and phosphorous, which makes it
- It is rich in protein, calcium and iron, which makes it a meat substitute for vegans.
- It contains all nine essential amino acids including lysine, which is necessary for cellular renewal.
- It is an excellent source of fiber and starch.
- It is low in calories despite being packed with so much minerals and nutrients, which makes it ideal for dieters
- It is gluten free, which makes it a great alternative to grains for people with gluten sensitivity.
Because of these quinoa nutrition facts, it is not surprising that it is being recommended for people who want to lose weight, for people who suffer from migraine, heart disease and atherosclerosis, for people with gluten sensitivity, for vegans, and basically for everyone who wants to eat healthy. It is also a good food to introduce to kids, and a fantastic ingredient you can use to make wonderful new and nutritious dishes.
History of Quinoa
Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America. The ancient Incas considered this plant sacred and called it “chisaya mama” which means ‘Mother of All Grains’. It was an important plant. The Inca emperor would personally sow the first seeds of the planting season using golden implements. During times of war, the quinoa was a mainstay in the diet of their soldiers. They would march for days on a diet of quinoa and fat called “war balls”.
When the Spanish conquered South America, the colonizers looked down on quinoa as ‘food for the Indians’. They banned the cultivation of quinoa in favor of wheat. For almost four centuries, quinoa was grown only on the outskirts by the poorest of the poor. Recently, with the rediscovery of the benefits of quinoa, interest in it has spurned production and cultivation in more and more farms
Cooking with Quinoa
Quinoa in its natural state comes in various colors and textures, which is no surprising given that there are about 120 species of the Chenopodium plant. Quinoa seeds may come in a range of color - pinks, creamy whites, browns, blacks and even red. The most popular ones cultivated as food come in sweet white, a fruity dark red, and the black quinoa. Its flat and oval shaped appearance resemble the millet.
Quinoa seeds are naturally coated with a bitter substance called saponins, which can be mildly toxic. This is why this outer coating is washed off before quinoa is cooked. To remove the saponins, quinoa are soaked in water and strained a few times.
For those of you who are curious what quinoa tastes like, well, those who have tried it describe the flavor and texture of cooked quinoa as fluffy, creamy with a slightly nutty and al dente texture. It is prepared the way most grains are cooked. It can be simmered in water, cooked in a rice cooker, cooked in a broth to make couscous, pilafs, casseroles, stews and soups. Quinoa can be used like nuts to add texture and flavor to salads, breakfast cereals, or taken as a snack. They can also be used in baking desserts.
Cooking with Quinoa offers a lot of exciting and delicious possibilities for staying healthy. Continue to explore our site to discover the many different ways you can benefit from this nutritionally dense power food.