Quinoa nutrition is something most of us know very little about so how about me giving you some facts and figures to a grain that has plenty of good things to offer. The only downside is perhaps the price. Yes, it's more expensive than other whole grains but the rewards you get will more than compensate for the higher cost. Depending on where you live, quinoa can be more than three times the price than regular grains such as rice and oats at your local supermarket but if you should be in Peru in South America, you wouldn't have to worry about the price so much because this grain originated from high up in the Peruvian mountains.
Centuries ago, the Incas dined on grain so important they named it Quinoa. It's considered the mother of all grains. All whole grains are good for you but quinoa stands head and shoulders above the rest. It contains more protein than any other grain and it is such a rich and balanced source of essential nutrients that food experts have called it the super-grain for the future.
Quinoa is one of the best sources of plant-based protein you can get. And unlike the protein found in most grains, quinoa's protein is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the nine essential amino acids that your body needs to get from food. This makes quinoa a grain of choice for both vegans and vegetarians.
A half-cup of cooked quinoa delivers 5 grams of protein, 10 per cent of the Daily Value (DV). It's particularly high in the amino acid lysine which is important for helping tissue grow and repair themselves. Also, quinoa has unique healing powers to help fight fatigue, prevent anaemia and regulate blood pressure.
For your blood to carry oxygen, it must have iron. When you don't get enough iron in your diet, red blood cells shrink. reducing the amount of oxygen they can carry. To make up the difference, the heart and lungs have to work harder Over time, this extra exertion causes fatigue.
Quinoa wakes you up again. Most grains have little iron but quinoa is a very good source. For example, a half-cup of cooked quinoa contains 4 milligrams of iron, 40 per cent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men and 27 per cent of the RDA for women. Compare that to similar amounts of brown rice, which has only 1 milligram of iron
Besides providing a minefield of iron, quinoa supplies two additional nutrients, magnesium and riboflavin, that help blood work more efficiently. People who don't get enough magnesium in their diets have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. Nutritional practitioners have found that when people low in magnesium start getting enough, their blood pressure improves, the blood is less likely to clot and the heart beats more regularly.
Quinoa can help restore your magnesium to heart-healthy standards. A half-cup of cooked quinoa contains 90 milligrams of magnesium, 22 per cent of the Daily Value
Explore the possibilities. Apart from perhaps white rice, people often only use other whole grains for side dishes because they're not quite sure what else to do with them. But Quinoa is soft and somewhat bland, meaning that you can include it in almost any food. Adding quinoa to soups, pasta dishes, salads or stuffings makes it easy to get more of its nutritional power in your diet every day.
Keep it cold. While most whole grains are good keepers, quinoa spoils quickly. To preserve the nutrients and the good taste, it's best to quinoa only in small quantities and to store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator or another cool, dark place.
While wheat, rice and other grains are all prepared in similar ways, quinoa is smaller and more delicate and must be treated a little differently. Here's what chefs advise.
Wash it well. As quinoa grows, it develops a natural protective coating called saponin which sometimes has a bitter taste. To wash away the residue, rinse quinoa before you start cooking.
Watch the time. Quinoa cooks more quickly than other whole grains and because of its delicate texture, it can get twice as mushy when you overcook. To get the proper consistency, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup of quinoa, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for ten to 15 minutes, until the grains are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.
Use a little, get a lot. Some folks baulk at the price of quinoa which is quite a bit more expensive than other grains. But because it plumps up a lot during cooking -up to four times its original volume - a little goes a long way.
1 Cup Quinoa
1 and 3 quarter cup of water
4 Teaspoons olive oil
12 Baby Tomatoes, cut into quarters
A handful of fresh Rocket
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 Teaspoon ground Cumin
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
Place the Quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse well with cold water. Drain and transfer to a medium saucepan.
Add the water and bring to boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender but still slightly crunchy. If all the water has not been absorbed, drain it through a fine sieve.
Place the quinoa in a medium bowl. Drizzle with the oil and toss to mix. Add the tomatoes, rocket, lime juice, cumin, garlic and salt. Toss again thoroughly to mix. Makes 4 servings.
Total Fat 8.4 g.
Saturated Fat 0.9 g.
Cholesterol 0 mg.
Sodium 219 mg
Dietary Fibre 6.4 g.
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