Let’s talk about quinoa (KEEN-wah), shall we?

  Before you dive into this fabulous grain there is one important consideration. "The upsurge in demand for quinoa in places like the U.S. has pushed up prices for the grain to the point where poorer people in Peru and Bolivia — for whom the grain was once a dietary staple — can no longer afford it. “In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken.” It is one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude. Due to its high altitude cultivation, growing the seed else where in the world has been met with poor results. I understand the frustration, Australian domestic lamb is often more expensive than Australian lamb bought over seas. It makes no sense and hardly seems fair. In regards to quinoa, I am not asking to you to sway your appetite either way, just be aware.

Quinoa is close to one of the most complete foods in nature because it contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Quinoa can be anything you want from an easy summer salad to breakfast to a winter comfort food. High in protein and gluten free and if you haven't tried it it has a wonderful texture. While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. Try a quinoa pilaf salad recipe, or serve a vegetable stir-fry over cooked quinoa instead of rice. Quinoa is my favorite whole grain for three reasons:First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains such as millet or teff. Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and - yum! Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans.

Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles, making it a complete protein. It is a wonderful way to ensure that you consume valuable fiber that eases elimination and tones your colon. Quinoa is a good source of manganese and copper that act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances. Quinoa can be your superfood: regulating your blood sugar, enhancing elimination, and keeping your heart healthy. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, is kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic.

Culinary ethnologists will be interested to know that quinoa was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude.

Some fast facts about quinoa:

  • It’s gluten free. It’s closer related to spinach than it is to any grain.
  • It is a complete protein: it has all 9 amino acids packed into each little seed.
  • It’s high in magnesium (good for heart health. helpful to counteract high blood pressure or high cholesterol)
  • Antioxidants! Quinoa is super high in them, so it will keep your red blood cells safe from free radicals that want to attack.
  • Any benefit that can get from eating whole grains, you will get from eating quinoa, only it’s gluten free.

Convinced yet? Aside from it being good for you, it’s super easy to make. You cook it much like rice or couscous (1 part quinoa, 2 cups liquid), but it cooks up in about 15 minutes. Any dish that you want to eat with rice, you can substitute quinoa. More→


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