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Where does it come from?
Quinoa has been labeled now as The Ancestral Gold Secret.
The first crops of this grain date back more than 5000 years in the highlands of South America. It was one of the staples of pre-Colombian food. Indeed, the harsh climate of the Andes and the manure created by the lama farms formed a perfect ecosystem for the growth of quinoa. Thus, this herbaceous plant was considered by the Incas as sacred, they nicknamed it “mother seed”. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived on the continent, they did not believe in the nutritive qualities of quinoa and preferred to cultivate wheat and barley in favor of these small white marbles. This threatened for four centuries the quinoa to disappear forever, but some plantations succeeded in surviving, despite the order of the colonists, in remote parts of the Cordillera.
Quinoa resurfaced in the world only with changes in the eating habits of Westerners in the 1970s. Today, its consumption and culture are spreading in the United States, Canada and even in Europe.
What Is Quinoa?
A quick search on the internet reveals several facts of this grain crop which is grown primarily for its edible seeds.
Simply put, Quinoa, a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) is a pseudo cereal (that is their seeds can be ground into flour and consumed) rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family.
It is also closely related to species such as beetroot, spinach and tumbleweed which have shrub like growth.
Quinoa can be in two forms: grain or flour. Thus, for optimal preservation, a cool, dry and sheltered place will be chosen. For flour, better leave it in a jar in the refrigerator or in the freezer.
What are the nutritional benefits?
Quinoa, a powerful antioxidant
Antioxidants are compounds that can delay or inhibit the oxidation of lipids or other molecules and thus reduce the damage caused by free radicals. A recent study has shown that pseudo-cereals such as quinoa have a high antioxidant activity. In addition, quinoa would also contain isoflavones, including daidzein and genistein. Isoflavons are phytoestrogen, molecules of plant origin that act in the body somewhat in the manner of estrogen naturally produced by the body.
Estrogen include a role in regulating the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as helping to prevent bone demineralization and keep blood vessels healthy. One wonders then whether phytoestrogen can mimic the effect of estrogen. The effects are promising but other studies remain to confirm these hypotheses.
Essential Amino Acids
Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and acceptable quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. A study showed that deficiency of essential amino acids leads to symptoms of nervousness, exhaustion, and dizziness to a greater or lesser extent and moderate consumption of Quinoa can help avoid such symptoms.
Quinoa consists of a unique combination of anti-inflammatory compounds that show to an extent the decreased risk of inflammation-related problems (including obesity) when animals under study are fed quinoa on a daily basis.
The list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa is now known to include:
- Polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans
- Hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids
- Flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol which are found in concentrated levels often higher than those of high flavonoid berries like cranberry or ligonberry
- Saponins including molecules derived from oleanic acid, hederagenin and serjanic acid.
- Small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also provided by quinoa.
It is high in protein and lacks gluten which is good news for those who suffer from Celiac disease which is an autoimmune disease attacking the small intestine due to the presence of gluten for which the only remedy is maintaining a gluten free diet. While scientists are yet to confirm whether oats are a gluten free food, it is safe to say that Quinoa, like amaranth, is gluten free and good for your health as it is considered easy to digest. Because of these characteristics, it is being considered a possible crop for long-duration human occupied space flights undertaken by NASA.
The nutrient composition of Quinoa is favorable compared with common cereals earning the Quinoa grain the title of being called a “super food”.
Nutritional evaluations indicate that quinoa is a source of complete protein, that is, it contains all the essential amino acids required in a human diet in correct proportions.
Other similar pseudo grains derived from seeds are similar in complete protein levels; buckwheat is 18% protein compared to 14% for Quinoa; Amaranth, a related species to Quinoa, ranges from 12 to 17.5%.
High In Protein
The protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice (Indian rice) and oats. In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid).
High In Fiber
The grain is additionally a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium .This fiber intake makes it possible to consider it as a food for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. It normalizes the levels of glucose, insulin and cholesterol. The iron he holds allows him to fight against anemia. ..
Vegan Friendly and Good For Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant
It is also a source of calcium, and thus, is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.
However, it is important to note that some nutritionist will advise not to feed children under two years of age with quinoa.
Exactly How Does One Consume Quinoa?
The grain may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value, provided that the grains are rinsed thoroughly to remove any saponin that contains an unpalatable bitterness which in turn aids during cultivation as it wards off birds reducing the need for protecting it.
The seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.
The good news is processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to significantly compromise the quality of quinoa’s fatty acids, allowing us to enjoy its cooked texture and flavor while maintaining this nutrient benefit.
The leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is limited. In some forms the seeds are softened making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.
Quinoa is an excellent accompaniment to dishes to vary your menus. You can add it to summer salads like tabbouleh, or use it to prepare risottos, couscous, soups or even farces. It also mixes very well with sweet as for making pudding-type cakes. In the form of flour, it will be incorporated to prepare pancake or fried pasta, noting that it is necessary to divide the quantities by two, the latter absorbing more.
Most Common use of Quinoa
Quinoa can replace other grains in virtually all recipes, such as bulgur in tabbouleh salad, wheat semolina in couscous or rice in risotto. Here are some other suggestions.
- Add it to soups, for example, this mushroom soup: brown slices of mushrooms and shiitakes and reserve them. Sauté onions and celery, add quinoa and cook for 2 minutes. Add diced potatoes and carrot slices, broth, salt, pepper, thyme, and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the mushrooms and garnish with parsley.
- Incorporate it in soufflés, omelettes, quiches.
- Stuffed tomatoes: mix quinoa cooked, dried fruit set to soak for an hour in water, split fresh grapes in half, chopped almonds, ciboule green, spices (cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, ground coriander seeds, powdered ginger) . Put to cool a few hours, then stuff the tomatoes with this mixture.
- Pilaf: sauté onions, red, green and yellow peppers, celery, carrots and garlic; Add quinoa, return a few minutes, then add water or broth. Garnish with chopped almonds and oregano.
- Stuff a poultry with a mixture of cooked quinoa, dry roasted nuts, onion, garlic, mushrooms and celery in olive oil, seasoned with sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley. To vary, put half quinoa, half wild rice.
- Oriental quinoa pasta salad: cook pasta according to instructions and cool under water. Roasting sesame seeds dry; Whiten snow peas and refresh them under water; Sauté chicken pieces in oil until cooked through. Mix all these ingredients together with the pasta, sliced almonds, chopped garlic and ginger, chopped ciboule and an olive oil-based vinaigrette with a little sesame oil, Lemon, soy sauce, honey and hot pepper.
- Quinoa burgers: bind the cooked grains with an egg and bread crumbs, add carrots, onion, celery and garlic, sliced and cook in the pan. Serve with a tomato or red pepper coulis, or a yogurt, garlic and parsley sauce.
- Prepare meatless chili with quinoa, kidney beans, tomatoes, chili powder and chopped vegetables (carrots, onion, celery).
- Native American salad: quinoa, sweet corn kernels, green peas, tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, chopped coriander.
- Indian Quinoa: Sauté shallots and fresh ginger in olive oil. Add quinoa as well as ground spices (cardamom, cumin, cayenne, coriander), water or broth, and cook for ten or fifteen minutes. Grill dry pine nuts in a frying pan and add, with raisins, to cooked quinoa.
- You can make a sweet pudding, according to the principle of rice pudding or bread.
- Quinoa leaves can be cooked like spinach.
- Quinoa grains can be sprouted. They can then be used as alfalfa sprouts.
- Quinoa is used to make an alcoholic beverage called “chicha” in South America.
What Makes Quinoa Special?
While it may be called a “Pseudo-cereal” there is nothing fake about the health benefits of Quinoa. In fact, The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”
Check out this Yummy Quinoa Dosa recipe !