Quinoa is an all-cereal crop that is gluten-free. Its kernels look like buckwheat groats. The color of quinoa can be beige, black, red or purple. Quinoa is a source of many healthful components, which is why its popularity is increasing every day.
The homeland of quinoa is South America, more specifically the Andes. The product has been known for more than 6,000 years. At one time it was a staple diet of the Aztecs, Incas, and other peoples. Quinoa was considered a sacred product and the «mother of cereals».
Quinoa got a new life in the 1970s, when it was discovered and popularized by American agronomists. The product became widespread only in the early 2000s. Since then it has been sold in many stores and has the status of a superfood.
Today the plant is fully cultivated and has no wild ancestors left. Most of the product comes to world markets from Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador.
Many people think of quinoa as a cereal, but it is not a grain, but a seed rich in protein. The plant is a close relative of beets, spinach, and quinoa. The edible fruit is actually a class of fruit.
The Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa contains many useful substances. The main ones among them are:
- Vitamins: B1, B2, B4, B6, B9, E.
- Minerals: calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc.
- Antioxidants: quercetin, kaempferol, squalene. Bitter varieties of quinoa have more antioxidants than sweet ones.
Such a rich composition determines the following useful properties of the product:
- Antioxidants in the composition ensure the prevention of a number of diseases: pathologies of the cardiovascular system, osteoporosis, malignant tumors.
- Fiber improves bowel function and the digestive system as a whole.
- Quinoa does not contain gluten, so it is excellent for people who suffer from its intolerance.
- Folic acid makes the product useful for pregnant women. This substance contributes to the proper development of the fetus.
- Being a complete source of vegetable protein with all the necessary amino acids, quinoa is great for vegetarians and vegans.
- It is good for diabetes. It normalizes blood sugar levels as well as insulin and triglycerides.
- Quinoa helps to reduce cholesterol levels, which has a positive effect on the heart.
- The complex combination of all the useful properties helps to strengthen the immune system, improve the function of all organs and systems and increase life activity.
Contraindications for the product are minimal. The harm of quinoa can appear only in one case — when they are abused. Especially caution should be exercised by those who have problems with the kidneys.
Despite all the benefits of the seeds, you should not cook them for breakfast, lunch and dinner — remember that your diet should be, first of all, diverse and balanced.
Pregnant and nursing women should be careful when eating quinoa, especially if it has not been in your diet before. Introduce the product to the menu gradually and monitor your body’s reaction to it. At the same time, quinoa is a source of folic acid, and it has a positive effect on the fetus and on the health of the expectant mother. The probability of allergies to the product is negligible, but if you are prone to them, it is better to consume it in small quantities first.
Quinoa has an average glycemic index — 40-50 units in a serving of boiled product. This figure is associated with a large amount of vegetable fiber, as well as a certain percentage of vegetable fats in the composition.
Thanks to such a GI, quinoa helps to achieve a feeling of fullness for a long time, as well as to normalize blood sugar levels and to prevent acute attacks of hunger. In moderate amounts it can be consumed for diabetes and include it in the menu on a low-carbohydrate diet.
How to cook quinoa?
Quinoa is usually consumed in boiled form, although some varieties are suitable for adding to baked goods and salads. To eliminate the bitter taste, soak the seeds in water for at least 30-45 minutes before eating. Then the grits are rinsed under running water using gauze or colander.
The duration of cooking is determined by the variety of quinoa, the size of the grains and the soaking time. Most often it takes 20-30 minutes. For one part of the product need two parts of water. You can cook quinoa in a pot or in a steam cooker. In the latter case, it is better to put the mode «brown rice».
The standard process of cooking quinoa includes the following steps:
- Pour 200-250 mg of water into a pot and boil it.
- In the boiling water pour 80-100 grams of quinoa.
- Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot with a lid.
- Cook the quinoa on low heat for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Season with salt and oil to taste.
- Remove the grain from the fire and leave it to stand for a few minutes.
- The taste of the final product depends on its type. Brown quinoa looks like uncooked rice, white has a neutral flavor, and red has a slight nutty note.
What are quinoa dishes and what are they good for?
Light colored quinoa can be used for side dishes and added to baked goods as flour. Note that the darker the grain, the more crunchy it is. The red and black types have a bitter, nutty flavor. There is also tricolor quinoa, which combines different types. It’s a little bitter and mostly suitable for salads. But if you like the bright flavor, you can also use it as plain white quinoa.
Porridge cooked in water can be combined with vegetables and used as a side dish for lunch. Quinoa on milk can be supplemented with fruit, honey, and other sweeteners, so it’s great for breakfast. Light salads with quinoa are perfect for a snack or diet dinner.
Since the cooking time of the product is long, you can combine it with other long-cooking cereals. Simple white rice and buckwheat should not be combined with quinoa, as they boil quickly.
Quinoa is a superfood and a storehouse of many valuable substances. Enriching your diet.