People everywhere, from homes to restaurants, are talking about and using quinoa.
If you are like me, when I first saw it, not only did I not know what it was, I also pronounced it wrong. I made the perfectly reasonable mistake of calling it “kwin-wah.” The correct pronunciation is “keen-wah.” They knew what I was talking about in the grocery store, so apparently I wasn’t the only one pronouncing it wrong.
Now, after using it in salads, soups and breakfast cereals, I wonder why I never used it a long time ago since it dates back 3,000 to 4,000 years when the Incas first realized that the quinoa seed was fit for human consumption. The Incas believed it increased the stamina of their warriors and now we are calling quinoa the “Super Grain of the Future.”
Some health benefits of the grain are:
• Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.
• Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fiber is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and may help you to lose weight as it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food.
• Quinoa contains iron.
• Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.
• Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control.
• Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.
• Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.
Although scores of varieties of quinoa exist in the Andes, three are most widely cultivated and available: white, red, and black.
Quinoa or white quinoa is the most common kind of quinoa available in stores, so you’ll often see it just called quinoa. Sometimes it’s also called ivory quinoa.
Red quinoa holds its shape after cooking a bit better than white quinoa, making it more suitable for cold salads or other recipes where a distinct grain is especially desirable.
Black Quinoa is a bit earthier and sweeter than white quinoa. Black quinoa keeps it’s striking black color when cooked.
Here is how I get quinoa in each day. I have only used the red and white, can’t wait to try the black. Every morning I have an oatmeal shake as I call it. I cook oatmeal — not the kind that comes in small packets in the cereal isle — and quinoa in the microwave for one minute, and then add cinnamon and enough skim milk to drink it.
Yum … I’m ready for the day.
Donna Cook is the owner of Rabbit Creek Gourmet Foods in Louisburg, Kan. She is also a Master Gardener, Master Food Volunteer and on the board of directors of the Home Baking Association.