Irrespective of whether you’re a diet freak or not, quinoa is a household name. A great wheat-free alternative to starchy grains, quinoa production dates back to 3000 to 4000 years ago for consumption by humans. Dating back to such a long time, It became the staple diet of the Incas and their descendants. Often considered as a grain, quinoa is, in fact, a seed belonging to the amaranth family.
Why Should You Include Quinoa in Your Diet?
Quinoa has been used as a food source since time immemorial, quinoa possesses highly nutritional qualities. Though considered as a “pseudo-cereal”, quinoa is an excellent source of protein, fibre, iron, copper, thiamine and vitamin B6. Not only that, it has high levels of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and folate, which are incredibly essential for our body. With such high nutritional value, no doubt quinoa is one of the best health food ever.
Has Beneficial Plant Compounds
Two highly beneficial plant compounds- Quercetin and Kaempferol- are found in high concentration in quinoa. Quercetin is a flavonoid that is very helpful in reducing inflammation, allergies, heart ailments, skin problems and various other health issues. Kaempferol is an antioxidant that prevents oxidative damage to our cells, lipids and the DNA. With two such vital compounds present in quinoa, it has a highly essential role to play in maintaining our health.
Has Higher Fibre Content
Quinoa, though considered as a “pseudo-cereal”, is highly nutritious. It has a high fibre content, as compared to most other grains. While it has a high level of insoluble fibres, which are not helpful for the human body, nevertheless, the low quantity of soluble fibres can work wonders. Present in a quantity of 1.5 grams per 100 grams of quinoa, these fibres not just provide roughage to the body for a healthy bowel movement, they also keep the blood pressure balanced, thus preventing heart diseases.
Say No to Gluten with Quinoa
If you don’t know it yet, quinoa is completely gluten-free. Gluten is a protein substance that remains when starch is removed from cereal grains. So when we intake food with gluten, it stays in our body, causing problems like obesity, intestinal damage and digestive discomfort. Quinoa, with its gluten-free property, helps you fight all these ailments.
As we already discussed, quinoa is very high in proteins. Not just that, it also contains all the nine crucial amino acids that the human body requires. Proteins, as we know, are one of the most important building blocks of the body. With its high protein content, quinoa makes it easy to keep the body fit.
This video informs all the things that you need to know about the protein content of quinoa.
Low Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index refers to the number related to the carbohydrates in a particular food that affects a person’s blood glucose level. Higher the GI, faster is the digestion, thus leading to a rapid rise in the blood glucose level. Lower the GI, slower is the carbohydrate absorption, and therefore, slower is the digestion, thus having a pretty delayed effect on the blood glucose level, and in turn, keeping the insulin levels in check. Quinoa has a very low Glycemic Index, which is very good for the body.
High Mineral Content
The human body requires as many as 16 minerals to function properly. These are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, and selenium, molybdenum, chromium, and fluoride. With each having their specific tasks to perform, it’s very important that our body keeps getting these minerals for proper functioning. Quinoa consists magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and manganese, which are highly required by the body.
Good for Metabolism
Given that we know about the high nutrition value of quinoa, it is no hidden fact that it is profoundly good for the metabolic health. With its fibre content, quinoa provides enough roughage to control bowel movement, and it also slows down the digestion process, thus reducing the appetite, and hence, keeping in check weight gain.
Kavita Devgan here explains how quinoa helps in channelizing the metabolic process.
To stay fit, along with regular exercise, it’s also important to moderate or modify your diet. While many choose diet pills or diet supplements that have some side effects, quinoa is a natural food that comes with all the required minerals, proteins, fibres and a huge list of benefits. The best thing about quinoa is that it is very easy to cook and incorporate as a part of your daily diet.
Now that you know how healthy quinoa is let’s take you through some quick facts about this excellent food.
Facts About Quinoa
Quinoa is Not a Grain
You know how throughout the article we’ve been telling you that quinoa is a pseudo-cereal? Well, that’s because it isn’t a grain. Quinoa belongs to the amaranth family and is related to plants like bedroom and spinach. Quinoa, in fact, is actually a seed of an annual flowering plant, which is also called Quinoa.
Quinoa Flowering Plant (Huffington Post)
Quinoa is Healthier than White Rice
While white rice is fibre-rich, its germ and bran reduce its nutritional value. Quinoa, on the other hand, has soluble fibres which, although low in quantity, help a great deal in solving digestive problems.
Quinoa Originated in South America
Quinoa originated in the Andes Mountains in South America. Today, the highest cultivation of quinoa exists in Peru and Bolivia, leading to about 80% of the entire cultivation.
There are Numerous Types of Quinoa
According to the Whole Grains Council, there are about 120 different types of quinoa. Yes, that’s right! Each comes with its own specific set of properties, but all of them are highly beneficial. Of these, the most commercially available types of quinoa are Red Quinoa, White Quinoa and Black Quinoa.
Uncooked Quinoa Helps Too
You don’t necessarily have to go through the cooking process, which is very easy, to include quinoa in your diet. Uncooked quinoa too can provide you with your daily dose of fibres that the body requires.
Quinoa Had its Own Year
For its high nutrition value, quinoa had been dedicated the “International Year of Quinoa” in 2013 by The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Quinoa not only provides the best nutrition, but it is also easy to cultivate.
So you know the health benefits, you know the facts, so why not try to cook some awesome quinoa dishes? Of course, we’ll help you through this.
Super Easy Quinoa Recipes
Before we start, make sure to always rinse the quinoa before cooking. That removes the natural coating and gets rid of the bitter taste.
Eggs and Cauliflower Quinoa Cake
This is one of the best quinoa dishes you can have for breakfast.
- 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups Cauliflower, chopped
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Eggs to Poach
Get the full recipe here
Apple and Peanut Butter Quinoa
We love apples, and we love peanut butter. So why not add them both to quinoa?
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- 3/4 cup light coconut milk (canned)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Dash of salt
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1/2 and apple, diced
- 1 tablespoons pecans
Check out the entire recipe here
P.S- You can use any fruit you want to as long as you enjoy your breakfast.
Vegetable Quinoa Soup
This serves as a brilliant side dish, irrespective of what you’re having for lunch.
- Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Two medium yellow or white onion, chopped
- Three carrots, peeled and chopped
- Two celery stalks, chopped
- One to two cups chopped seasonal vegetables, like zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, sweet potatoes or butternut squash
- Six garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- Half teaspoon dried thyme
- One can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- One cup quinoa rinsed thoroughly in a fine mesh colander (use less for a lighter, brothier soup)
- Four cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
- Two cups water
- One teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Two bay leaves
- Red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- One can (15 ounces) great northern beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- One cup or more chopped fresh kale or collard greens, tough ribs removed
- One teaspoon lemon juice
- Optional garnish: freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Get the complete instructions here.
You can add whatever vegetable you want to that suits the season.
Salads are the easiest side dish that you can make. So why not team up salad with quinoa?
- Four cups vegetable broth (you can also use water instead)
- One half cups raw whole grain quinoa
- One cucumber, sliced
- One red or yellow bell pepper, diced
- Half cup lightly steamed broccoli florets
- Two tomatoes, chopped
- One-fourth cup olive oil
- One-third cup fresh lemon juice
- Two cloves garlic, minced
Complete your salad with notes from here
Chicken Fried Quinoa
This is for the times when you want to eat healthily, but you also want to eat meat.
- Two Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- Two eggs
- Salt and pepper
- One small white onion, finely chopped
- One Tbsp (15 mL) garlic, minced
- One carrot, peeled and chopped
- One cup tri-colour quinoa, cooked and cooled
- One cup small broccoli florets, blanched
- One-fourth cup (60 mL) low-sodium soy sauce (approx.)
- Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced.
Find the full recipe here
Garlic Mushroom Quinoa
These three words in themselves resonate a lot of nutrition. And what could be better than having three very healthy items for dinner in one simple dish?
- One cup quinoa
- One tablespoon olive oil
- One pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Five cloves garlic, minced
- Half teaspoon dried thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Two tablespoons grated Parmesan
Head over here to get the entire recipe.
So we’ve covered everything related to quinoa and even come across some really easy recipes you can try out with quinoa. When are you starting your quinoa diet? then shop online for Quinoa from Nutriwish.