Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has the highest nutritional profile and cooks the fastest of all grains. It is an extremely high energy grain and has been grown and consumed for about 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America. The Incas were able to run such long distances at such a high altitude because of this powerful grain.
Characteristics of quinoa
- Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
- Has a protein content equal to milk
- High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E
- Gluten-free; easy to digest
- Ideal food for endurance
- Strengthens the kidneys, heart, and lungs
Uses for quinoa
When quinoa is cooked, the outer germ surrounding the seed breaks open to form a crunchy coil, while the inner grain becomes soft and translucent. This double texture makes it delicious, versatile, and fun to eat. To save time, cook a lot of quinoa at once, and eat it as leftovers. Quinoa can be reheated with a splash of nut milk for breakfast porridge; you can add dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad, or add chopped, cooked, root vegetables for a warming side dish. Store dry, uncooked quinoa in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed glass jar for up to one year.
Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Saponin, when removed from quinoa, produces a soapy solution in water. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use. Place quinoa in a grain strainer and rinse thoroughly with water.
Quinoa is one of my FAVE vegetable protein sources. I use it in breakfasts, lunches and dinners! It can be made savory or sweet, and adds great nutritional value to any dish. We eat it all the time in our home!
© Integrative Nutrition, Inc. | Reprinted with permission
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