Saturday, December 6, 2008

Healthy Hint: Why I love quinoa!

I've mentioned quinoa several times in my recipes because my family loves it so much and it is super duper good for you. It was first recommended to me when I was still breastfeeding but my milk supply diminished because I got pregnant again. When I researched it and found out how good it is for us, we quickly incorporated it into as many meals as possible! Plus, my husband and baby LOVE it! Quinoa is close to one of the most complete foods in nature because it contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

What is it? Qiunoa looks like a grain, but is actually a seed. It reminds me a lot of the texture of cous-cous. We substitute it in any recipe that calls for rice or noodles because its so much better for you.

Some of the nutrients in quinoa include:

  • Rich in calcium
  • It's high in iron, phosphorous, vitamin E and several B vitamins.
  • Although the fat content is higher than most grains, clocking in at 6-7%, the protein in Quinoa is unparalleled in the plant kingdom and a strong contender to members of the animal kingdom as well. It's content ranges from 12-18%. Quinoa rivals the protein content of meat and because it contains abundant levels of all the 8 amino acids our bodies need in an almost perfect balance, Quinoa can be termed a "complete protein".
  • Quinoa is wheat and gluten free and makes a wonderful alternative to people suffering from Celiac disease or wheat allergies.

* Complete protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles.
* Magnesium helps relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure. Quinoa contains high levels of this vital nutrient.
* Fiber. Quinoa is a wonderful way to ensure that you consume valuable fiber that eases elimination and tones your colon.
* Manganese and copper. Quinoa is a good source of these minerals that act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances.

How to make it: I make quinoa exactly the same way I make oatmeal -- I soak 1 cup of quinoa from 7-24 hours in a jar with1 cup warm water and 2 Tbs. buttermilk, yogurt, or whey. Right before cooking, I rinse off the quinoa in a strainer. This is important because the quinoa has a slightly bitter taste unless you rinse it off first. When I'm ready to cook, I boil another cup of water in my pot on the stove, turn down the temp to low, pour the rinsed off quinoa in the pot and let it soak up the water for about 5-7 min. So easy!

Our favorite uses:
** My toddler LOVES it for breakfast with a little milk, butter/coconut oil, and organic maple syrup -- just put whatever add-ins you would put on your oatmeal.
**A quick snack with a little butter and cheese mixed in (kinda like a healthy version of mac a cheese :)
**I add it to whatever leftovers we have with a little sour cream and cheese for an easy lunch for my toddler
** Fried quinoa -- I mix an egg in it and fry it in coconut oil or butter; serve with a little bit of organic maple syrup
** Any recipe that calls for rice, noodles, oatmeal, etc. Here are some of our favorite recipes to use quinoa with: mango crockpot chicken, stir-fry, Tortilla Soup, meatballs, Crockpot Italian Chicken, Hawaain Chicken Pile-up, Cranberry Chicken, etc.

Where to get quinoa: The best option is to buy in bulk at a food co-op. You can also get it inthe bulk section at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and other natural food stores. I've seen quinoa flour and flakes in the organic section at grocery stores.

For more info on quinoa, click HERE and HERE and HERE


The Beckner Bulletin said...

I found it at Kroger in the organic section! :) I'm anxious to try this one too. I really appreciate you explaining all of this healthy stuff... I've always wanted to learn about it but I've been intimidated when I try to read about it on websites. It seems so easy to make your cooking healthy when you explain it!