“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf
It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition! This week we encourage you to incorporate quinoa into your meal plan. . .
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) originated in the areas around Lake Titicaca in South America. Around 3,000 to 5,000 BC Pre-Columbian peoples domesticated the plant and used the grains as a staple food of their diet. The Incas called quinoa the “mother grain” and considered it a sacred food. Technically, the plant is not a cereal grass like wheat, oats or barley but is a broadleaf plant and a member of the same family as spinach and beets. Sometimes it is referred to as a “pseudocereal” which is used to describe foods that are not grasses but can be ground into a flour or boiled and consumed much like rice. The entire plant is edible and what ends up looking like a grain on our plates is actually the seed. Quinoa plants are actually really beautiful and put on purple or reddish flowers before going to seed.
Those little seeds are packed with nutritional benefits! It is one of the most protein-rich plant sources and unlike cereal grasses it’s gluten free. It is considered a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids, including a high amount of lysine which is essential for tissue growth and repair. It’s a great source of fiber, containing nearly twice as much as those traditional grains and it’s also packed with magnesium, manganese and riboflavin. Quinoa is a great source of energy, keeps you fuller longer and yet is low in calories. This is a food that really earns it’s “superfood” title!
Quinoa comes in many varieties and can be red, cream, pink, orange purple and even black in color. It cooks up quickly and has a somewhat nutty flavor. Because the outer coating of the seeds contains saponins which can give a bitter taste, it’s a good idea to rinse the seeds in a fine meshed strainer and rub them together under cold water prior to cooking. It should be stored in an airtight container and will last longer if kept in the refrigerator, with a shelf life of about 3 to 6 months.
You can use quinoa in a variety of ways, and can be a fantastic substitute for rice, pastas and couscous if you are watching your carbohydrates. We’ve included some links below to yummy recipes to help you add more of this super delicious superfood into your meal planning.