As mentioned before, grains are probably the worst parts of the diet of today’s western diet, such as wheat and corn. Fortunately, there is a very healthy alternative to these grains…Quinoa. Quinoa is not a grain, it is a seed that is unlike the other grains, Quinoa is chuck full of protein and other essential nutrients and in addition, it’s gluten-free.
You can find Quinoa in many restaurants and grocery stores. You can use it in stuffing or pilafs and would make a great substitute for wheat or white/brown rice. You can even eat it in the morning.
So, what is Quinoa?
It’s a grain that was favored by the South American tribe known as the Incas and by the South American natives of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Back then, the Incas revered it as a seed of the Gods, but when Spanish colonization occurred, they were forbidden to cultivate Quinoa anymore. At one point and they tried to destroy any remnants of it. Instead, cultivation of corn was enforced.
Several Americans decided to grow and harvest Quinoa and it made a comeback in the U.S., as a healthy substitute for grain after some time because of its rich amino acids and other nutritional content. Quinoa is a seed with a nutty flavor. It belongs in the same family as chard, beets and spinach, but is often mistaken as a grain.
Nutritional content of the superstar Quinoa
You can get a lot of carbohydrates out of Quinoa, with reduced glucose levels. Other essential nutrients that you can get are manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper and calcium, including vitamins E and B.
Protein content is what makes Quinoa so desirable. It contains a balance of all of the essential amino acids crucial for the body. Unlike Quinoa, grains lack the right amount of amino acids such as methionine, cystine and lysine. Pairing Quinoa with legumes is an excellent choice because legumes because they too are low on methionine and cystine.
Any foods made with corn or wheat, in my opinion, is best substituted with Quinoa. Corn and wheat both have an anti-nutrient characteristic. In addition, if you base it on nutritional content, Quinoa wins easily, and do not forget that it is gluten-free.
Preparing Quinoa for eating¬– Tips, Methods and Recipes
Just cook the Quinoa seeds for 15 minutes and you can add them into dishes like casseroles, soups, stews, pilafs, cold salads and even stir-fry.
Quinoa is high in fiber and protein making it an excellent replacement for rice in many types of dishes. Personally, I cook it in chicken broth on a free-range bring up more flavors. You can heighten the nutty flavor of Quinoa by dry roasting them in either the oven or pan.
My own twist to a salad with quinoa is a combination of minced garlic, chopped tomatoes and zucchini, parsley and sweet onion. Squeeze some lemon juice to top it off and sprinkle in some pepper and kosher salt. You can make your own combination of your favorite vegetables and make your own nutritious meal.
For breakfast, instead of oatmeal, you can have Quinoa instead. Bulk it up with some eggs on the side for healthy fat and protein to complete your balance breakfast. Mix it up with some of your favorite fruits and nuts. Add in some cinnamon or other flavors that you choose.
You can eat Quinoa sprouts raw. You can sprout the Quinoa seeds by soaking 1/4 cup of Quinoa in a mason jar. Keep them soaked for 3 to 4 hours and drain and rinse them two times a day. Keep this up for about 3 days. If the sprouts grow an inch long, you can put them by the windowsill to obtain a nice green glow. You can put the sprouts in sandwiches and salads or simply snack on them. You can ‘pop’ them into a dry cereal by cooking them in a dry skillet.
Healthy substitute: Baked Quinoa
You can bake with Quinoa in its other form, flour. Flour made from quinoa is better in terms of nutritional content, as compared to wheat flour, which is commonly used for baking.
To lower the starch content and keep my recipe gluten-free, I mix Quinoa flour with coconut flour and almond flour. This 3-flour combination increases the fiber and protein in any baked items and does wonders for recipes like banana bread, carrot bread, muffins and zucchini bread. You can get creative and use this in other recipes of baked goods.
Although you won’t find Quinoa or Quinoa flour in every grocery store, you can probably obtain some in the healthy living section or in a store like Whole Foods. Quinoa is a delicious alternative and has many health benefits. Since it has higher protein, fiber content and is gluten-free, why not try it yourself?