Have you heard of quinoa? Pronounced ‘keen-wa’ NOT ‘kwin-o-a’. Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain but in many places it is referred to as a grain. Deriving from South America thousands of years ago, the Inca’s used it to feed their warriors. It gave them super powers! Well, a lot of energy anyway & kept their stamina up. It is branded today as a ‘super food’ as it has so many healthful benefits.
Quinoa first came into my radar a few years back whilst I was on a yoga, cleanse & detox retreat in Byron Bay. The menu for the week was vegan, gluten free; sugar free, caffeine free & alcohol free. Fun free? No not at all. I barely even missed all the above as the food was so amazing, fresh & organic (& cooked for me!). Quinoa was pretty much the main staple for the week’s menu. Quinoa porridge for breakfast, quinoa bakes for lunch and quinoa salads in the evening. This super food is so adaptable I didn’t even notice I was eating the same base seed for every meal. It even appeared in the muffins for those not on the cleanse.
Why is quinoa such a super food?
Protein – Quinoa is jam packed full of protein and all nine essential amino acids, important for muscled development. Very important to us vegetarians. I often tell my partner my quinoa has more protein than his steak!
Iron – Again very important for us vegos who don’t eat red meat. Iron keeps our red blood cells in working order and oxygenates the muscles. Iron increases brain function too. New to being a vegetarian and feeling forgetful? Get some Quinoa down you. Our brain uses about 20% of our blood oxygen so we need iron to carry that oxygen from cell to cell.
Fibre – We’ve all heard of the importance of this one in keeping our digestive system running smoothly. Quinoa is super high in fibre with nearly twice as much as other grains. It’s fairly heavy to eat so takes longer to chew, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and you don’t eat as much. It has fewer calories than other grains that can help with weight loss.
Magnesium – A good one again for blood and circulation. Magnesium relaxes the blood vessels, great if you are prone to cramps or headaches. It is one of the essential electrolytes I spoke about in the hydration post. Great for bones and teeth as well as being a natural detoxifier.
Compared to other grains, quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn. (1)
It’s easy to cook too. I soak my quinoa for about 8 hours. This removes the phytic acid making it easier to digest. Use the 2:1 ratio, two cups of water to one cup of quinoa. Make sure you wash your Quinoa thoroughly after soaking or it may taste bitter. Bring to the boil then simmer at the lowest setting, covered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking. It’s done when it’s absorbed the water and is light and fluffy. Leave it to stand off the heat for another five minutes to rest with the lid on.
I eat quinoa nearly every day. I make a huge salad or bake on a Sunday and this lasts me all week as a main or side dish. Quinoa is widely available in health food stores. Here is Australia you will find it in the Macro section of Woolworths. There are loads of recipes out there you can use quinoa in. Just google it and away you go! If you have any favourite quinoa recipes, please share in the comments below.
- The Largely Unknown Health Epidemic Affecting Almost ALL Americans, BodyEcology.com.