Health Benefits of Quinoa You Need To Know
There are rich benefits of Quinoa that are great for your health.
What is a Quinoa? Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a type of edible seed that comes in many colors including, white black, red, and yellow. The plant has been nurtured for about 5000 years and is indigenous to the Andean region of South America, specifically Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. After the seeds are harvested they go through the process of removing the natural saponins, a bitter-tasting chemical compound covering the exterior that performs as a natural pesticide.
Quinoa is customarily harvested by hand due to the differing levels of maturity of the seeds even within one plant. Therefore if mechanically harvested seed losses may occur.
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Quinoa and its Health Benefits
Though technically a seed, Quinoa is categorized as a whole grain and is a good source of plant protein and fiber. One cup cooked offers about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Quinoa is a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own.
There are lots of benefits of Quinoa that are good for the health. Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free and if one has gluten intolerance such as celiac disease, it can be eaten safely
Quinoa is rich in:
- Thiamine (B1)
A packaged quinoa is typically pre-rinsed but some brands may advise rinsing before cooking to remove any remaining saponins. Run the quinoa under cool water for a few passes and use a fine mesh strainer to catch the small seeds.
Quinoa is prepared alike to rice using two parts liquid to one part dry quinoa. One cup of dry quinoa will yield 3 cups cooked, and can be prepared in water, stock, or other liquids. You may also add herbs or spices during cooking such as bay leaves, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, or garlic or onion powder.
Add the seeds, liquid, and desired herbs to a pot and bring to a boil on high heat. When a rolling boil is reached, reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender. You may notice a little white tail develop when it is fully cooked; this is the nutritious germ. Fluff with a fork. If the quinoa is too wet or you prefer a drier quinoa, drain the cooked quinoa in a strainer and return to the pot. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes to dry out further.
For easier cooking, quinoa can be prepared in a rice cooker with the same ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water.
Prepare as a breakfast cereal by cooking the quinoa in milk or water. Stir in diced fresh fruit, cinnamon, and a tablespoon of nuts.
Substitute quinoa in place of rice in stir-fries and sushi.
Add a half to one cup of cooked quinoa to salads or soups for more heartiness.
Replace pasta with quinoa in pasta salad recipes.
Let quinoa pop similarly to popcorn. Place a 6-inch deep pot over medium-high heat. When the pan is very hot, add enough quinoa to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Turn the heat to medium, then cover and shake the pot to ensure a more even temperature and less burnt seeds. Open the lid slightly a few times to allow steam to escape. Continue shaking the pan until popping slows or you smell burning. Pour the grains onto a baking sheet to cool.
There are more than 120 known varieties of quinoa. The good varieties to try first are white and yellow quinoas, because they have the mildest flavor. Those that have slightly stronger, earthier flavors and tend to hold their shape better are the red and black quinoas.