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Quinoa: The Protein-Rich, Incan Superfood

From its modest origins in the Inca civilization in the Andes some 6000 years ago, quinoa has reached new heights with its high nutritional value. Pronounced as “keen-wah”, this protein rich Incan super food has been called the “super grain of the future”. Quinoa is sacred to the Incas and is used by them in various religious ceremonies. It is also considered Kosher for Passover.

Nutritional Facts about Quinoa

Though neither a grain nor a grass, Quinoa is referred to as a grain because it cooks and looks like one, even though it is related to the beets, spinach and tumbleweeds families. The nutritional value of the innocuous grain is amazing compared to other grains. Some of its many benefits include:

  • A high protein content of almost 12% to 18% makes it the most protein-rich grain known.
  • It contains all the 9 essential amino acids, including lysine.
  • It has high levels of unsaturated fats contrary to most proteins.  
  • Its fiber rich content makes it ideal for balancing the pH in the intestines and encouraging good digestion.  
  • Quinoa is rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and phosphorus, and has low levels of carbohydrates.
  • Quinoa is also gluten free, which makes it safe for those with allergies to gluten. Though, if you have an allergy to gluten, you should always check with your doctor before adding a new grain to your diet.
  • Quinoa is a perfect choice for vegetarian dishes.
  • The Incas used quinoa as a staple food in their diet, which was believed to give them exceptional stamina and strength.

Culinary Delight

When cooked, Quinoa acts like rice, only it’s slightly softer, and has a nutty feel to it making it a little crunchy. It can be cooked like rice or pasta in a pan or a rice cooker. The versatility of Quinoa means you can use it as a side dish, in a pilaf or even in cold salads for something new at your next company party or get-together. You can eat it as cereal for a protein and fiber-rich breakfast; just add a little honey, milk, fresh fruit or yogurt. They have higher vitamin and mineral content than most grains, which helps them cleanse the heart and arterial systems, while reducing fat in the blood stream. The leaves can be used to replace the lettuce in sandwiches.

The benefits of Quinoa far outdo any other grain available. In spite of being in obscurity for so long, it has rapidly made a place for itself in the many kitchen shelves. If you are looking for a multipurpose grain that everyone in your family will love, try adding Quinoa to your favorite dishes or as the grain replacement in your favorite recipes. By adding Quinoa to your diet, you can find the help you need when trying to lose or maintain weight without cutting grains from your diet.

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