“QUINOA: WHO IS THIS NUTTY NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE?”
A better first question might actually be, “Quinoa: how the heck do I pronouce the word?” Well, the answer is keen-wah, and don’t forget it either because this South American grain may be your new best friend! Native to the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains, quinoa is crunchy, chewy and loaded with good-for-you nutrients. The Incans have been eating quinoa for more than 5,000 years. No wonder they refer to it as chisaya mama – mother of all grains!
However, you may be surprised to know that quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables. It’s a grain, yes; it’s a vegetable, yes; and it’s also a complete protein, which means it has ALL nine essential amino acids. If that’s not enough for you, one serving of quinoa contains manganese, magnesium, iron, tryptophan (helps boost serotonin levels!), copper and phosphorus – all for only about 170 calories! Did I mention it’s super, super good for you and deliciously nutty and yummy?
(1 serving = 1/4 cup uncooked)
Total fat…2.8 grams
Saturated fat…0 grams (woohoo!)
Dietary fiber…3 grams
Quinoa also makes an excellent choice for those with celiac disease and are allergic to gluten, the protein found in wheat. Quinoa is gluten-free and can replace pasta, oatmeal and barley for grains in a recipe. Because it’s nutrient rich, quinoa is also an excellent choice for migraine sufferers, those with diabetes and atherosclerosis (inflammation of the arterial blood vessels, which can lead to heart attacks). A staple in health-food stores, quinoa is gradually making it’s way into mainstream U.S. grocery stores.
It’s super easy to incorporate into any dish – soups, salads, breakfast, lunch, dinner, baked goods – the list goes on! A 1-lb. bag of quinoa (about 10, 1/4-cup servings) will cost between $2.50 – 5.00 (or $0.25 to 0.50 cents a serving), depending on the brand and whether or not it’s organic. Buying quinoa in bulk will further reduce the cost and make sure you always have it on-hand. Popular makers of quinoa include Arrowhead Mills, Bob’s Red Mill, Quinoa Corporation and Trader Joe’s.
Now that I’ve totally convinced you to run out to the store and buy “the gold of the Incas,” I feel certainly obligated to present you with a few recipes to help you devour this pseudo-grain. It only takes 15 minutes to make! You can find quinoa at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s & Kowalski’s as well as most organic sections of grocers like Cub Foods, Rainbow Foods and Copp’s. Happy quinoa eatings!
“Alternative Crops Manual.” University of Wisconsin-Extension. <http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/quinoa.html>.
Spiridakis, Nicole. “Quinoa: A Sacred, Super Crop.” National Public Radio. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15749697>.
Whole Foods. “Quinoa.” <www.wholefoods.com>.