Quinoa (prounounced keen-wa) was a staple food for the South American Indians living in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains. The Incas likened to call it the “Chisaya Mama” or the “Mother of all Grains”. It was immensely popular because it was one of few crops that could survive in such high altitudes (10,000 – 20,000 feet above sea level). It could withstand frost, intense sun and the often dry conditions that characterized the Andean climate. It was also recognized for its superior nutritional qualities. For these reasons, it was dubbed “Mother of all Grains” and Quinoa came to have spiritual significance for them. Many traditions and ceremonies surrounded the cultivation, harvest and consumption of quinoa for these people.
Quinoa is a “pseudo-grain”- it’s actually a gluten-free seed, but used in cooking like a whole grain. This nutrient-rich grain is a wonderful source of complete protein, providing all of the essential amino acids for a human body. It is also a good source of dietary fiber. Naturally gluten free, this powerful little grain is a great addition to any diet, but is an ideal solution for those following a gluten free, vegan or vegetarian diet that are looking to increase their protein and fiber.
Quinoa is delicious on its own and the earthy flavour of quinoa makes it ideal for pilafs, soups and salads. Unlike many whole grains, quinoa takes very little time to prepare and can be substituted anywhere whole grains are used.
- 220 calories (70 percent carbs, 15 percent fat, 15 percent protein)
- 40 grams of carbohydrates (13 percent daily value)
- 8 grams of protein (16 percent of daily value)
- 3.5 grams of fat (5 percent daily value with no saturated fat)
- A glycemic load (blood sugar spike) of only 18 out of 250
- 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of daily value)
- 20 percent of daily value of folate (various forms of Vitamin B)
- 30 percent of magnesium daily value (beneficial for people with migraine headaches); 28 percent daily value of phosphorous; iron (15 percent); copper (18 percent); and manganese (almost 60 percent)
Remove from heat and then use a fork to fluff up the quinoa and serve any way you like. Here’s some ideas:
1. Tossed a 1/2 cup Cooked Quinoa into a salad and toss.
2. Eat as you would Oatmeal for Breakfast (Quinoa Porridge). Try a little almond milk, stir in raisins and drizzle with chopped almonds and maple syrup.
3. Add 1/2 cup Cooked Quinoa into a soup and stir.
4. Make a Quinoa Salad – love this Maple Quinoa Salad… YUM!
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