Jul 12, 2011

Quinoa, One of My New Faves

What is Quinoa? I had never even heard of Quinoa until I started researching vegetarian and vegan recipes to add into our diet. Now it is one of my favorite food item to cook with! 

Quinoa is often thought of as a grain, but it is actually a seed. Archeological evidence shows us that it has been consumed for nearly 7000 years. Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Quinoa grains are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or 'mother of all grains', and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using 'golden implements'.

Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Quinoa also contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it a complete protein source, unusual among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous. Quinoa can also be served as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, berries, or fruit. Which, consequently, is my favorite way of preparing it! Quinoa with soy milk and papaya and cinnamon... YUM!

 Picture courtesy of Babble's The Family Kitchen

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