An up-and-coming superfood that’s gained ground over the last decade, quinoa is a grain substitute packed full of nutrients that makes an excellent and healthy alternative to pasta and cereals made with processed and nutrient-deficient white flour. This grain contains plenty of nutrients including amino acids, fiber, minerals and B-complex vitamins. It was used anciently, but it has only recently become popularized in the modern world due to its health benefits.
This food, while marketed and served like a grain, is actually made from seeds. One serving, about one cup of dry seeds before preparation, contains 8g of protein, 5g of fiber and a significant percentage of some of the essential minerals we need daily like magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc. It also contains antioxidants, specifically one called quercetin, which has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation and even worked to lessen depression. Another antioxidant found within it, kaempferol, helps tissues to grow and heal, and it also assists our bodies in resisting infections.
While being high in nutrients including omega-3s, it’s still low in calories, making it an excellent choice for weight loss as well. This food falls low on the glycemic index, therefore making it a good choice for diabetics or people with hypoglycemia because it won’t spike blood sugar levels and gets digested slowly.
This superfood can help to reduce the risk of a number of diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers and high blood pressure. Consuming a low-calorie, high fiber food like this also decreases your risk of obesity and the related complications of excessive weight gain common with consumption of the standard American diet. For those with Celiac disease, it’s also a gluten-free alternative to bread and other grains containing gluten, making it excellent for use in shared meals where others may want a grain or its substitute. It's available not just in seed and grain-like form but also as a flour and cereal, creating a lot of flexibility in preparation for people who want to make it a staple of their daily diet.
For a grain-like food, it’s surprisingly high in protein, which adds to its versatility. People looking to add more protein to their diets may also want to incorporate this food since high-protein meats often tend to also be high in saturated fat, increasing the risk of heart disease and cancers. Quinoa has more protein than grains like wheat or rice, and it also creates much more alkalinity in the body than traditional grains that tend to make the body more acidic.
In preparing this food, if you purchase it as a whole seed food, be sure to rinse off the toxins. Most people simply rinse it in a strainer with water, and running your hands or a spoon through the strainer helps to remove even more saponin and reduce any residual bitter flavor that the seeds may have.
In addition to substituting it for grain dishes like pasta, people often make salads or healthy desserts with it like a healthier version of bread pudding. Using the flour as a substitute for white flour in dishes like pancakes or cakes has reached popularity among people searching for a way to make delicious and healthy gluten-free bakery. People have even used the flour in place of breadcrumbs in dishes like stuffed peppers or tomatoes or as a way to make healthy energy bars. It also works well as a thickening agent to hold together homemade veggie or bean burgers.