The “Supergrain of the Future”: All About Quinoa

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.

Indian-start-up-targets-global-snacks-with-high-protein-price-stable-quinoaQuinoa 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.

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A quinoa plant

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.51bc6d4bdbd0cb1e7f000d1a._w.540_s.fit_
  • 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:

  1. Measure out the amount you want. (1 cup dry quinoa = 2-3 cups cooked)
  2. Rinse the quinoa off in the sink – there is a small coating on quinoa, which if not rinsed, will make it taste bitter.
  3. Dry it off as best you can, in the meantime heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan.
  4. However much dry quinoa you are using, double the amount of water (or broth) to combine with it. (1 cup quinoa = 2 cups water)
  5. 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).
  6. Bring to a boil, then cover.
  7. Keep the quinoa cooking, covered, until the water is absorbed (usually about 10-15 minutes, give or take).
  8. 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.

l352776056Use 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.

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Cooking with Turmeric: Mulligatawny Soup

If you were to ask me a year ago to take a chalky, mustard-yellow colored spice, incorporate it into my cooking, and enjoy it, I would have probably politely declined. One year later, I have a pretty decent-sized bag of turmeric in my spice rack, and I use it as often as possible.

mulligatawny_soup_68949_16x9This weeks’ recipe is Mulligatawny Soup, a traditional Indian dish translated as “pepper water” – due to the addition of curry spice, and in some variations (like this one), turmeric.

Why this recipe?

This particular recipe I’m following, from Allrecipes.com, doesn’t actually include turmeric by default, but I’ve made it a few times and feel that the addition of turmeric will only make it better. I discovered this recipe only a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make, and how delicious it is. My whole family loves it. Within the first few minutes of simmering the vegetables, my kitchen smelt amazing.

Before we begin:

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time
: 1 hour
Ready in
: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Here’s what you’ll need…

(makes 6 servings)

  • Mulligatawny Soup Ingredients1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 1 diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 apple cored and chopped (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1/4 cup white rice (I used brown)
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half, cut into cubes
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated
Now what?
  1. First, take your carrots, onions, celery, and butter and combine in a medium to large soup pot. Sauté for about seven minutes, until onion becomes translucent.
  2. Add the flour, curry powder, turmeric, and garlic, and cook for five more minutes.Mulligatawny_saute (1)
  3. Add the chicken stock and mix everything together, continuing to cook until a boil. Once boiled, lower the heat and simmer for about a half hour.
  4. Add diced apple, chicken, rice, salt, pepper, and thyme. Simmer until rice is done (about 20 minutes).
  5. Add hot cream (I microwaved the cream beforehand for about 20 seconds to warm it).
  6. Serve and enjoy!
It’s all about the taste

Mulligatawny_done (1)This came out delicious! Adding the turmeric really gave it a nice kick. If you’re looking for a warm, somewhat spicy treat for crisp, cool days (or cool summer nights), I highly recommend this recipe.

Some recommended tweaks

Now that I’ve had it with and without turmeric, I would definitely recommend including it. I also included garlic, which wasn’t called for in the original recipe. If you want to make it extra healthy, you can always substitute the butter for olive oil, and the heavy cream for 2% milk. One reviewer even recommended substituting the flour for cooked potatoes. If you’re a vegetarian, consider adding lentils instead of chicken. Your soup may not be as thick and hearty with these substitutions, but the flavors will still be there.

Another tip – this soup gets better with time. If you can, save some for the second or third day; it will give the flavors some more time to meld together, and the unique spices will really come out.

Hope you enjoyed the first recipe! Let me know if you make it, and what you think in the comments!

The Golden Spice: Turmeric

product_turmericWhat if I told you that adding a pinch of a certain spice into your dishes could help treat or prevent debilitating diseases like arthritis or Alzheimers, or even life-threatening cancers? Turmeric, a chalky, mustard-yellow spice common in traditional Indian dishes, has the potential to fight against bacteria, inflammatory disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and other malignant diseases.

A Super-Spice

For many years, turmeric has been used in Indian culture to treat aches and other ailments, particularly arthritis. Perhaps most impressive is its anti-inflammatory property, which helps joint aches and pains associated with arthritis. Additionally, this anti-inflammatory property promotes a healthy gut, which regulates your body’s digestive system and keeps bad bacteria out.

Turmeric owes its magical properties to curcumin, a major component of the spice. Studies have suggested throughout the years that curcumin regulates inflammation that “plays a major role in most chronic illnesses, including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases.” Lab tests have also suggested that curcumin slows the growth of tumors. There is still a decent amount of research to be made, but the results so far on studies of turmeric are promising, to say the least. Some of the lowest rates of prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers are in India, and researchers are linking these lower rates to the fact that turmeric is a staple of their daily diet.

Cooking with Turmeric

Don’t be intiturmeric1midated by turmeric’s less-than-appetizing appearance (after all, it is the stuff that makes mustard yellow). It may look chalky and even bland, but turmeric packs a punch. It has a spicy, gingery flavor, which complements many foods. If you’ve ever had Indian food, particularly curry, you’ve almost definitely had turmeric before. It’s that aromatic spice in the background which doesn’t set your mouth on fire, but it’s enough spice to know it’s there.

Turmeric can be a big part of a healthy diet. It’s most recognized in rice dishes, and can be easily mocked in your own kitchen by adding a spoonful while you are cooking rice (side note: turmeric is most effective in combination with black pepper, so try to use the both of them together). For more healthy benefits, swap the rice for quinoa, an especially healthy grain, deemed a superfood as well. Turmeric also works well in eggs, particularly frittatas, and make a healthy start to your day. You can add some spice to a stir fry with turmeric, or add it into a chicken soup. There are many possibilities with this distinct yet versatile spice, and the more you can incorporate it into your diet, the better.

Check back later this week for a post on a recipe I made with turmeric. Looking forward to sharing it with you all!

Welcome!

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. – Buddha

Hello everyone and welcome to The Pursuit of Healthiness – my new healthy eating blog!

My name is Liz and I’m 24 years old, a full-time student working towards my Masters Degree in Professional writing, with a concentration on Web Content Development. I also work full-time as a marketing coordinator for an engineering company here in New York.

For many years now, healthy eating has been a passion of mine. I have suffered in the past from stomach issues that kept me feeling tired and miserable almost all of the time. I attributed this constant discomfort to my unhealthy eating habits, and made it a point to change what I eat. Though I admit I “fall off the wagon” more than I probably should, overall I am committed to healthy eating, and taking care of my body.

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I have come across some great recipes in the past which have become regular appearances in my kitchen, and I want to use this blog to show some of my favorites, and discover some new recipes with my followers. My plan is to showcase one or two special ingredients per week, and talk about the health benefits to them. Then, for my second weekly post, I plan to make a dish (or two) which the “ingredients of the week” will be a part of. I think it will be a fun idea to motivate myself and others, and hopefully we can learn something new!

I hope you will join me in my Pursuit of Healthiness! Any and all recommendations are welcome. Looking forward to cooking with you all!