Quinoa. It’s pronounced “KEEN-wah.” Say it with me – “KEEN-wah.” “KEEN-wah.” There are so many great things about quinoa. I’m nerdy about food and as I started to learn about quinoa – it’s really amazing! Its versatility and ease of use in recipes is virtually unmatched. Quinoa possesses many health benefits, so you can definitely find a way to use it in your cooking routine.
What Is Quinoa?
* “KEEN-wah” isn’t a grain. It’s a seed that is more closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds!
* Saponins form a covering around quinoa seeds. Saponins can have a bitter flavor, so always rinse quinoa before you cook it. Fascinating fact: saponins have a distinct foaming characteristic. I use soap nuts (soap berries) to do my laundry – and the soap nuts contain saponins and that’s what cleans our clothes! You can read more about how I use soap nuts here:
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*The “Q” seed is naturally gluten free.
*Quinoa was first used as a food source between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago in the Andean region surrounding Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. Impress at cocktail parties with that fun little fact!
Nutritional Value of Quinoa
*One cup cooked contains 5 grams of fiber – or 21% of your daily recommended intake.
*Quercetin (Another Q word – next time you play Scrabble, you can thank me.) is a flavonoid with powerful antihistamine properties. Quercetin has been found to stabilize mast cells to help reduce anxiety and allergic reactions. If you’ve read my post about allergies, you know that my seasonal allergies have been a life-long problem. This year, the combination of quercetin and lemon, lavender, and peppermint essential oils almost totally relieved my runny nose, itchy red eyes, and sneezing. Next year, I’ll be upping my quinoa consumption!
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*Quinoa is a complete protein – which is hard to find from plant sources. This means that it possesses all of the essential amino acids that we cannot produce and that we must get from our diet. It contains all nine essential amino acids.
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*For maximum nutrient absorption, soaking and/or sprouting quinoa before cooking is advisable. This will reduce its phytic acid content thereby making all of its nutrients more bioavailable – or available for our bodies to use.
*Quinoa is a great source of the vitamins Thiamine (31% RDA), Riboflavin (27% RDA), B6 (38% RDA), and Folate (46% RDA).
*Quinoa are a great source of the minerals Iron (35% RDA), Magnesium (55% RDA), Phosphorous (65% RDA), and Zinc (33% RDA)
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Fun Facts About Quinoa
*The Food and Agriculture Organization / World Health Orginization designated 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa.
*Between 2006 and early 2013 quinoa crop prices tripled!
*Quinoa was a sacred crop for the Incas who used it religious ceremonies. During the Spanish conquest of South America, the colonists forbade quinoa and instead forced the Incas to grow wheat.
*Because of its nutritional value, quinoa is being considered as a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for human space flights of long durations.
Why I Love Quinoa
My favorite things about quinoa are:
It’s quick, healthy, and easy to fix (and what’s not to love about that daily dietary trifecta?)
It’s versatile. It can be used to make almost anything: salads, soups, stews, cookies, chocolate cake – yes, you read that right – chocolate cake, muffins, pancakes, quinoa egg cups, breakfast cereal, fudge, slow cooker quinoa, popper bites, fritters, meatballs, bakes, bites, balls – you get the picture.
My friend Wendy, at www.wendypolisi.com is the queen of all things quinoa. She has pulled together over 600 of her own recipes to share on her Quinoa Pinterest Board. Check it out, re-pin a few that you want to try – and let me know what you picked!
And, third, I love quinoa for salads and soups, especially in winter. They still feel “farm to table” fresh and bright like the delicious salads of summer, but they have a more warming and hearty winter-like quality to them.
Oh, and finally,
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