There are many health benefits to quinoa. It is a fantastic source of protein and well worth adding to your diet. Do you use it as much as you should?
Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wa’, comes in two types – red and white. Both are nutritionally superior to most other grains, including bulgarwheat, couscous and certainly rice, and were the staple diet of the Incas for thousands of years. It has a slightly nutty, subtle flavour that may be used in any meal.
As a vegetarian I’m often looking for sources of protein that aren’t meat-based. The many health benefits of quinoa have led to it being labelled a superfood, largely because it is a complete protein – it contains all 9 essential amino acids (including lysine and isoleucine amino acids) that many other grains lack. Quantity-wise, it has two times the protein content of rice or barley and is a very good source of calcium, manganese and magnesium. It also contains iron, B-vitamins, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin E.
Impressive, isn’t it?!
It is also high in dietary fibre and is low-GI so is digested slowly by the body. This is great for those wanting to keep an eye on their blood sugar levels or their weight. Quinoa doesn’t cause a large sugar spike in the blood when eaten. In addition it is wheat-free which means it’s perfect for those of us with gluten-intolerance or coeliac disease. Interestingly, it is also good for those who typically suffer from bloating when they eat too much wheat.
I know about the health benefits of quinoa but how do I cook it?
Store your quinoa in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place where it will last for several months. Cook it by rinsing thoroughly (to remove the saponin seed coating) and then boiling it in the same way that you would cook rice. When they’re cooked the grains will open up to release little white ‘tails’ as they soften. Add it to soups, stews, and sprinkle it onto salads. The quinoa, lentil and feta salad seen here is a favourite of mine!
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