Quinoa – Super food of the Incas

About a year ago, I started hearing about a grain called Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). I even read a few articles about it in the magazines and on the Internet; furthermore, I saw it while watching Food TV – one of my favorite decadent pastimes 🙂  It definitely piqued my interest, but I was still hesitant to buy it. Then, I finally got to try it at one of the sampling sessions at Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t particularly impressed since it was quite bland. But I realized that this was an issue with the recipe and not the quinoa itself, which had a quite nutty flavor and was a bit chewy but “not bad.” It was well worth being creatively experimental with it! And boy did I experiment 🙂 

Quinoa in measuring cup

Quinoa is being rightfully called a lot of names…however they are good names! It is being called everything from a super food, the gold of the Incas, and “other such names”. Over 5,000 years ago, the Incas used to cultivate quinoa as one of their staple crops. Fast forward to the 1980s, when some Americans rediscovered this ancient, super-nutritious food and they began cultivating it near Boulder, Colorado. Since then, quinoa’s popularity has literally exploded worldwide. These days it is readily available in even regular supermarkets; in a variety of colors like white, red, purple and more. (Livestrong)

As we all know, looks can be deceiving. Quinoa looks like a tiny grain but in reality is a seed. It is best grown in high altitude regions. And to make things more interesting, it actually thrives in adverse conditions like poor soil, thin air and all kinds of extreme weather! Talk about hardy! (“Quinoa”)

Nutritionally it also packs quite a punch. Usually when you eat a plant protein like beans or legumes, you have to supplement them with a carbohydrate like rice or bread in order to get the complete protein profile necessary for our nutritional needs. Quinoa, on the other hand, is a rare plant protein that is a complete protein with all the 9 essential amino acids. This makes it an excellent source of healthy protein for vegetarians and vegans. (Livestrong)

Quinoa Bag

Along with proteins, it is also a great source for lots of other minerals and fiber. In fact, fiber-wise it has almost twice as much as fiber as compared to other grains, making it an excellent choice for our digestion. Quinoa also helps our cardiac health as its high fiber helps reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fiber can also help lower glucose levels, which can help reduce the risk of diabetes. Since quinoa contains fewer calories with more fiber, it turns out to be an excellent tool in weight reduction. (Wilcox)

The other nice thing about Quinoa is that it is naturally gluten-free. This gives people who follow a gluten-free diet for medical or other reasons an excellent substitute for regular flour. Quinoa flour can be easily substituted for regular flour to make pasta, cookies, bread and more. (Livestrong)

This powerful super food is very easy to cook and can be used as a beautiful substitute in lots of sweet or savory dishes as a main or side dish and even as a salad. I have experimented a lot with Quinoa and have a few dishes like Quinoa salad, Quinoa Pohe (a savory snack/appetizer), Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burger, and Quinoa & Brown Rice Biryani in my repertoire that I would love to share with everybody 🙂

Sources:

Wilcox, Julie. “7 Benefits Of Quinoa: The Supergrain Of The Future.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 26 June 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

“5 Things You Need to Know About the Health Benefits of Quinoa.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 03 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

“Quinoa” The World’s Healthiest Foods. George Mateljan Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

2 thoughts on “Quinoa – Super food of the Incas

  1. Pingback: Dietary Fiber: The Fabric of our Healthy Diet | Eat Well Feel Good

  2. Pingback: Almond Cranberry Granola | Healthy Eats For All

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