Quin-what? (What is quinoa?)
Tiny, bead-shaped, with a slightly bitter flavor and firm texture, organic quinoa may not be a household name just yet, but it is set for a starry future – as far as grains go. Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein – containing all eight of the essential amino acids. It has been recognized by the United Nations as a supercrop for its health benefits: packed with dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
Quinoa farming and consumption in India is at a nascent stage, but groups promoting Indian varieties of millets are concerned over the possibility of quinoa eventually taking over locally grown millets. With a high protein content of 14-18% and a rich presence of essential amino acids, quinoa has caught the attention of the health-conscious, especially vegans and vegetarians.
Quinoa is an excellent alternative to white rice or couscous. It should usually be rinsed or soaked before use to remove its bitter coating, so check packet instructions. Bring two cups of water to the boil to one cup of grain, cover, simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ should have a slight bite to it.
Quick Tip: Store quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge. Quinoa can be used in the same way as rice and is great in stuffing, pilafs and breakfast cereals.
Quinoa is Incredibly Nutritious
Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds. It is pronounced KEEN-wah. It technically isn’t a cereal grain, but a pseudo-cereal. In other words, it is basically a “seed” which is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain.
There are three main types of quinoa – white, red and black.
Here is the nutrient breakdown for 1 cup of cooked quinoa, or 185 grams:
- Protein:8 grams.
- Fiber:5 grams.
- Manganese:58% of the RDA.
- Magnesium:30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus:28% of the RDA.
- Folate:19% of the RDA.
- Copper:18% of the RDA.
- Iron:15% of the RDA.
- Zinc:13% of the RDA.
- Potassium:9% of the RDA.
- Over 10% of the RDA for Vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
- Small amounts of Calcium, B3 (Niacin) and Vitamin E.
This is coming with a total of 222 calories, with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. It also contains a small amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Did you know?
Quinoa was an important crop for the Inca Empire back in the day. They referred to it as the “mother of all grains” and believed it to be sacred. It has been consumed for thousands of years in South America, although it only became trendy and reached “superfood status” a few years ago.
Another important benefit of quinoa is that it is high in fiber.
One study that looked at 4 varieties of quinoa found a range of between 10 and 16 grams of fiber, per every 100 grams of uncooked quinoa.
This equals 17-27 grams per cup, which is very high… more than twice as high as most grains. Boiled quinoa contains much less fiber, gram for gram, because it absorbs so much water.
Did you know?
NASA scientists have been looking at it as a suitable crop to be grown in outer space, mostly based on its high nutrient content, ease of use and how easy it is to grow.
Protein is made out of amino acids. Some of them are termed “essential” because we cannot produce them and need to get them from the diet. If a food contains all the essential amino acids, it is seen as a “complete” protein.
The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as Lysine. However… quinoa is an exception to this, being particularly high in in all the essential amino acids. For this reason, quinoa is an excellent source of protein. It has both more and better protein than most grains.
The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels.
It is known that eating foods that are high on the glycemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity. Such foods have also been linked to many of the chronic, Western diseases that are so common today… like diabetes and heart disease.
Quinoa has a glycemic index of 50, which is considered low.
In order to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn.It is known that certain properties of foods can facilitate this process… either by boosting metabolism (increasing calories out) or reducing appetite (lowering calories in).
Interestingly, quinoa has several such properties. It is high in protein, which can both increase metabolism and reduce appetite significantly.
You can buy quinoa in most health food stores and many supermarkets. It is also available online, with many reviews, testimonials and usage tips from real customers.
You can easily buy Quinoa Online at naturalmantra.com
Quinoa Upma Recipe:
- Wash and soak quinoa for about 15 to 20 minutes
- Add oil to a hot pan, Add dals, cumin and mustard. When the dals turn golden. Add hing
- Add all the chopped veggies, curry leaves and chili; Fry for 2 to 3 minutes
- Pour water and add salt. Check salt by tasting water
- When the water comes to a boil, drain off the water from quinoa and add it to the pan
- Cook on a medium to low flame till the quinoa is cooked completely. Keep stirring to prevent burning
- Serve quinoa upma with pickle or curd. It goes good even in lunch box or as a breakfast or quick dinner.
Then there are dozens of other delicious ways to use quinoa.