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I'm just a girl trying to keep an eternal perspective on life, and live it to the fullest :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wonderful Quinoa

This is a new favorite of mine! I enjoy cooking with it in its original form, and substituting regular pasta with quinoa pasta products!

Is Quinoa the Perfect Food?
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has been grown for thousands of years in the Andes mountains in South America. It was a very important part of the Incan diet and it is still sometimes referred to as "the gold of the Incas." It is often thought of as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a leafy green plant called Chenopodium (also known as goosefoot), which is related to Swiss chard and spinach.
Quinoa has a structure similar to wheat or rice. Like grains, it can be eaten whole or ground into floor to make bread, cereal, or pasta. But unlike a lot of grains, it is not stripped of it's bran and germ when it is processed as a food source.
Here are the many powerful health benefits of quinoa:
Contains all nine essential amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that the body needs to form protein, but it can only manufacture 11 of these. The other nine, which are called essential amino acids, must come from food. Quinoa and soy are the only plant-based foods that contains all nine essential amino acids.
Digests slowly. Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate that digests slowly and will not cause blood sugar levels and insulin levels to spike. It's also an excellent source of energy.
Is high in fiber. One cup of cooked quinoa contains five grams of fiber. Fiber helps keep your colon and arteries clean and healthy.
Induces satiety. The protein and fiber in quinoa induce satiety, which is a feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
Is high in vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is higher in calcium, B vitamins, vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than most grains.
Contains phytonutrients. Quinoa contains phytonutrients (also known as phytochemicals), which are chemical compounds that help reduce the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Acts as a prebiotic. Quinoa acts as a prebiotic that feeds the microflora (good bacteria) in your intestines.
Is gluten free. Quinoa is gluten free and safe for those with gluten intolerance.
Quinoa is increasing in popularity, but you still won't find it in many grocery stores. Look for it in more progressive grocery stores and in health food stores. You can also buy it online.

Jim Plummer is a longtime health and fitness enthusiast. His website, http://www.functional-fitness-facts.com, contains information, advice, and resources that will help you get more fit and healthy. Visit his website and pick up your free fat loss report.
1. The Gold of the Incas
Over 5,000 years ago, high in the Andes mountains, the Incas began to cultivate quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) as one of their staple crops, believing that it gave power and stamina to their warriors. Quinoa was also used in their ceremonial rituals. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America in the sixteenth century, they burned and destroyed the quinoa fields as part of the effort to annihilate Inca culture. But quinoa survived by growing wild in the mountains or by being cultivated in secret in small quantities. In the 1980s, two North Americans stumbled upon this ancient, super-nutritious food and began cultivating it near Boulder, Colorado. Since then, quinoa's popularity has exploded worldwide.
2. Getting to Know Quinoa
Although it is cooked and eaten like a grain, quinoa is technically a seed, and is related to spinach, chard and beets. It grows best in mountainous regions, 10 thousand feet or more above sea level, and thrives in poor soil, thin air and extreme weather. Quinoa stalks are 3 to 6 feet tall, and each plant can produce up to a cup of seeds! The seeds are round, about the same size of millet or sesame seeds, and come in a rainbow of colors, from red to purple to green to yellow, but the quinoa that is most commonly found in stores is an off-white color. Look for quinoa in the bulk section of natural food stores, or in the organic section of conventional supermarkets.
3. A Complete Protein and so Much More
Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans, or for anyone looking for healthy protein source. It's also high in iron and calcium, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as fiber.
4. Cooking With Quinoa
Most commercially available quinoa has already been cleaned, but you should still give it a thorough rinsing before cooking to be sure to remove any remaining saponins, a soapy resin that protects the seeds while they are growing, but can impart a bitter taste if not removed. Combine one cup rinsed quinoa to two cups water or broth, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the seeds become translucent and the germ of the seed uncoils to form a little "tail." Quinoa has a light, slightly nutty taste and a fluffy texture. It makes a tasty porridge or casserole and can be added to soups and stews.
5. The Gluten-free Grain of Choice
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent food for celiac patients or other people following a gluten-free diet. Quinoa flour is great for baking cookies, breads and muffins, and quinoa flakes are a perfect substitute for oatmeal.
Find more great info @ http://www.quinoa.net/
See More Nutritional Information about Quinoa HERE and HERE
Check out MyPyramid.gov  for tons of healthy eating information!

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