Even though most mistake quinoa as a grain of the gluten-free variety, it is a vegetable seed and a highly nutritious one.
In fact, it is closely related to spinach and beets. It delivers a rare protein that is vegetable-sourced and has all 9 essential amino acids.
We think of beans and rice as a complete protein, since when they are eaten together, they supply us with all 9 essential amino acids. The thing is, most grains have a lack of lysine and isoleucine, and so they need to be partnered with a legume to be considered ‘complete’.
This is where quinoa can truly shine. It represents a high-fiber, high-protein, low-fat, low GI, and a nutrient-, mineral-, and vitamin-packed seed. No wonder it has been a staple food in South America for more than 4000 years!
Ironically, even though we’ve already established that it is not really a grain, quinoa has also been named ‘chisaya mama’. This translates to ‘the mother of all grains’. Many even consider it sacred because it thrives during a hot, long summer, as well as during drought conditions.
In fact, during such periods, when many other plants weaken, the quinoa harvests can even double! This makes it ideal for harvesting right before those cold winter months make their arrival known, and people are generally in need of more fats and protein.
Even though quinoa is higher in fat in comparison with wheat and other grasses, the majority still see it as a low-fat source of protein. It can even boast of a significant amount of oleic acid, which is typically found in olive oil and some other healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
What’s great about these good fats is that they do not become oxidized during cooking, which is the case with most other fats. They remain stable, which is a major plus, among all the others. Researchers claim that this is thanks to the high antioxidant levels of quinoa.
This superfood is also abundant in polyphenols, the alpha, beta, and gamma forms of vitamin E, and flavonoids (such as quercetin) which serve to lengthen its shelf life. They also protect this seed from rancidity during the heating process.
Quinoa has also gained popularity for the effect it has on one’s blood sugar. It is a low glycemic food, and so it exerts minimal blood sugar stress on one’s body.
Furthermore, its high fiber content aids in slowing the absorption of any other sugars from one’s digestive tract into one’s bloodstream. As a matter of fact, during one particular study, it outperformed the other ten Peruvian grains when it comes to managing blood sugar and weight.
Interestingly enough, even though this seed maintained healthy blood glucose levels, it also seemed to satiate the one eating it more than rice or wheat. At least, according to SEI (Satiating Efficiency Index).
It further supports healthy blood sugar thanks to its high magnesium content. This also means it has the ability to support healthy and normal blood pressure levels.
So to sum up, this anti-inflammatory, natural antioxidant food which is brimming with all kinds of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients, is the perfect staple food, especially during the fall and winter months.
1. Try your best at washing away the quinoa seed skin, as it is rather bitter by nature. You can use a fine strainer, to make things easier for you.
2. Boil two cups of water with a cup of quinoa.
3. Now just cover it, turn the heat to low, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
4. After you’re done with that part, just strain the quinoa once again using the fine strainer. This grain can hold a lot of water, mind you.
5. Lastly, return the cooked, strained quinoa to a warm pot and let it sit for another fifteen minutes at most. This step is to make sure you end up with fluffy, light quinoa, rather than the clumpy, wet kind.
You can see a few more ways to cook quinoa in the video below: