Here is one of my favorite reactions to telling someone I am starting a healthy food blog:
So, are you just, like, going to post about quinoa every day?
Not quite, but I get what my coworker was saying.
Quinoa is worthy of being the food of the week, at the very least. It’s deemed the “Supergrain of the Future” by Forbes, after all. I am sure that most of you have heard that quinoa is good for you, but if you aren’t sure exactly why, then read on. You’ll be surprised just how good this tiny grain is for your body.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa, (pronounced KEEN-wah) is technically not a grain, it’s a seed. It’s a species of the goosefoot genus, surprisingly closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds. Weird, but delicious. It’s known as a pseudocereal, as opposed to a true cereal, because it is a non-grass. A similar pseudocereal is a buckwheat.
Though you may have heard of quinoa only somewhat recently(in the past few years or so), it has actually been consumed for thousands of years. It was first discovered in the Andean region of South America; more specifically Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. It’s said that it was deemed the “mother grain” by the Incas, due to the nutrition and power it gave their warriors. Sounds pretty impressive to me.
Today, we find it as a popular grain served on the side or mixed into some of our favorite healthy dishes.
So, why is it good for me?
There are so many reasons why quinoa is good for you. I could list them all and elaborate using difficult-to-pronounce words for certain amino acids, phytonutrients, etc. (and make this post much longer than it needs to be), but I am going to keep it simple. For specifics, this is a great resource.
- Protein. One of the most widely-known benefits of quinoa is that it’s very rich in protein. Because of this, it’s a staple in most vegetarian diets. It contains all nine essential amino acids, while other grains may fall short of this benefit.
- Phytonutrients. These contain antioxidant properties that help your body fight disease and keep everything working as it should. Quinoa contains phytonutrients with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Nutrients and Minerals. Because quinoa is so easy to digest, the many nutrients it contains are perfectly absorbed into your body. High levels of magnesium can be found in quinoa, in addition to the recommended daily amounts of folate and phosphorus. In addition, it contains high levels of manganese and copper, which also help fight off cancers and other diseases. Large quantities of potassium, zinc and magnesium are found in quinoa as well, which help with your heart and nerve function, in addition to keeping your muscles healthy. It can also be considered a probiotic; which means it feeds your intestines with good bacteria.
- Calcium. Quinoa is a plant-derived source of calcium, which also helps regulate heart, nerve and muscle function, and of course build strong bones.
- Complex Carbohydrate. As a complex carbohydrate, quinoa provides the body with many additional benefits. It helps digestion by easing the process of “moving things along.” Therefore, it reduces bloating and constipation, which can become a real problem if not treated. Quinoa is rich in fiber, and has a low glycemic index as well, which helps to lower cholesterol. It will help you feel full longer, and give you the energy you need to get through the day.
How to make quinoa
Quinoa is very easy to prepare. Here’s how I do it:
- Measure out the amount you want. (1 cup dry quinoa = 2-3 cups cooked)
- Rinse the quinoa off in the sink – there is a small coating on quinoa, which if not rinsed, will make it taste bitter.
- Dry it off as best you can, in the meantime heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan.
- However much dry quinoa you are using, double the amount of water (or broth) to combine with it. (1 cup quinoa = 2 cups water)
- Put the quinoa in the saucepan with the olive oil, and mix it around for about a minute. Add the water, or broth (I recommend broth).
- Bring to a boil, then cover.
- Keep the quinoa cooking, covered, until the water is absorbed (usually about 10-15 minutes, give or take).
- Remove from heat and fluff with a fork before serving.
How should I use it?
Quinoa makes for a tasty and healthy addition to any meal. In many dishes, it replaces rice, as the tastes are somewhat similar but quinoa has so many more benefits.
I like to add spices to my quinoa when it’s cooking, such as turmeric, or FlavorGod spicy everything seasoning. Quinoa is very versatile and can be customized however you might like it. That’s another great thing about it.
Use quinoa in stir fry dishes, cold salad dishes, healthy chili, or simply on the side of your favorite meat with vegetables. You’ll have a healthy, balanced meal that will leave you feeling satisfied.