Quinoa—An Ancient Grain

quinoaQuinoa—An Ancient Grain

From obscurity to infamy, the heralded ancient grain, QUINOA is found in a vast number of good-for-you food products. Such fame, and yet so few people know how to pronounce its name…so here you go: it’s pronounced “keen-wah”. Native to South America, this “grain” is actually a seed. Quinoa was once called “the gold of the Incas” because this tribe recognized its ability to increase the stamina of its warriors.

What makes quinoa so desirable? Quinoa is not only a gluten free source of protein—it is a COMPLETE protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need to function yet are unable to produce on their own. Eating quinoa is sort of “one stop shopping” when it comes to collecting the vital building blocks needed to repair your bones and muscles and replenish your hormones and digestive enzymes.

The process of preparing quinoa is similar to cooking rice or barley. The dry “grains” are added to boiling water or broth and cooked until softened. You’ll need to “fluff up” the quinoa with a fork after it is finished cooking, just as you do when preparing couscous (a tiny pasta “grain”).

Quinoa is an exciting food, not because it’s good tasting (believe me, it needs a supporting cast of flavorful characters!), but because it’s healthy, versatile AND you can hide it in a number of dishes!

Once cooked, here’s some of the ways you can incorporate this complete protein into your meal plans:

  • Toss it with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and cilantro and dress it with some olive oil and lime juice, S&P.
  • Blend it into your burger, taco, or meatloaf mix.
  • Sprinkle it onto salads or in between your lunch meat.
  • Combine it with diced, steamed butternut squash and zucchini adding some curry/cumin seasonings.
  • Stir it into soups or stews

Be on the lookout for quinoa used as an ingredient in your health food market’s packaged foods, such as tortilla chips, granola or cereals. This ancient of grains has become a modern day star!

To return to previous Monday Morning Health Tips, click here.