Benefits of Quinoa
When I went gluten free I discovered an ancient seed called quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”). When I learned about the benefits of this gluten free superfood I felt like I was part of some secret club. Not a lot of people had heard of it.
While quinoa often gets grouped with other grains, in actuality it is a seed. This ancient “sacred seed” was used by the Incas as a staple in their food supply for about 5,000 years. In review of its benefits it is no wonder why.
Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index. The main benefit is that it is protein rich and contains nine essential amino acids. It also has twice as much fiber as most other grains and it contains iron, which keeps the red blood cells healthy by carrying oxygen from one cell to another.
Quinoa contains lysine which is essential for tissue growth and repair. It is rich in magnesium, which helps relieve cramping and relaxes blood vessels. It is also high in B2, which improves energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells.
Quinoa is high in manganese – an antixoidant which helps prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production. It is also a good source of riboflavin, which similarly improves energy metabolism.
Quinoa contains other polysaccharides and flavonoids — which have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. These include tryptophan, folate and phosphorus B1.
Recipe for Warm Quinoa Cereal With Nuts
As the temperatures outside have dropped, my body wants more warming foods. While my body doesn’t do too well with oatmeal (or gluten), I’ve found quinoa to be great morning substitute.
Of note: Quinoa is coated with a toxic chemical called saponin so it is important that it is rinsed thoroughly before cooking it. Simply place the quinoa in a fine strainer and run cold water over it until soapy residue has been washed away.
Also quinoa is relatively high in oxalates, which if consumed too much over time can cause kidney stones, so as with all other things, balance is key 🙂
That being said, the recipe below definitely hit the spot for breakfast:
Warm Quinoa Cereal With Nuts
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup non dairy milk (I use coconut milk)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (roasted is even better!)
- Rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine strainer and drain.
- I cook my quinoa in the rice cooker. Just add the water, salt and quinoa and start it up. If you don’t have a rice cooker than add the water, salt and quinoa to a saucepan, bring to a boil, then stir and turn down the heat to medium low. Cover the pot and simmer for about 15-20 minutes (until there is no water left – the quinoa will soak it up).
- Remove from the heat (or rice cooker) and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add enough of the milk so it has more of an oatmeal like consistency.
- Add toasted walnuts to the top. To toast the walnuts put them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven and cook for 5-10 minutes.
On the Positive Side?
These days it seems that this superfood is available more readily and recognized more in the mainstream for its benefits. I found a big bag of organic quinoa at Costco 🙂
It is a very versatile food. It can be made sweet (like the recipe above) or I’ve used it as a base of a spicier version (in place of rice). I’ve seen it as a base in many veggie burgers. It is also available as a flour for cooking.
Have you tried experimenting with quinoa? Do you have a recipe to share? I’d love to hear from you.