Contrary to popular belief, quinoa is not grain but rather a highly nutritious veggie seed. It is related to spinach and beets and it delivers an extremely rare veggie-sourced complete protein with all the nine essential amino acids.
Quinoa Health Benefits: from protein to anti-inflammatory
Rice and beans deliver all the nine essential amino acids only when eaten together. Most grains lack isoleucine and lysine, and need to be consumed with a legume in order to become complete. Quinoa, which has been long used in South America, is a low-fat, fiber-dense, high-protein, vitamin-, mineral-, and nutrient-packed seed.
Although quinoa is not a grain, it is often referred to as ‘the mother of all grains.’ It is considered sacred probably because it thrives during hot summer and drought conditions when other plants weaken. This protein-dense food is harvested before the winter when more protein and fats are needed.
It is worth noting that although it is considered a low-fat protein veggie seed, quinoa is higher in fat compared to wheat and other grasses. It contains notable amounts of oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. It also contains (ALA) alpha-linolenic acid, another heart-healthy fat. Interestingly, these fats remain stable or don’t become oxidized during cooking, which typically happens with other fats.
It is believed that this is due to the high levels of antioxidants present in quinoa. It is packed with polyphenols, alpha, beta and gamma forms of vitamin A, and flavonoids that extend its shelf life and protect the seed from rancidity when cooked.
Besides being a high-protein veggie seed, quinoa is famed for its ability to regulate blood sugar levels, too. Being a low-glycemic food, it puts little blood sugar stress on the body, while its fiber content promotes absorption of other sugars from the digestive tract in the bloodstream. In one study, it did better than ten other grains in regards to its effects on blood sugar and weight.
Interestingly enough, although quinoa kept healthy low blood sugar levels, it offered more fullness, satiety, and satisfaction after a meal compared to rice or wheat, according to the Satiating Efficiency Index (SEI). Additionally, it contains solid amounts of magnesium, which promotes healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Anti-inflammatory and natural antioxidant which is packed with fiber, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and a veggie ‘complete protein,’ quinoa must be considered as staple in the diet all year-round, particularly in fall and winter when the requirement for high-protein foods goes up.
Quinoa Cooking Instructions
- Wash away the skin of the quinoa seed using a fine strainer. It is recommended to do your best to remove the skin as it is quite bitter.
- Add two cups of water to a cup of quinoa and bring to a boil
- Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about fifteen minutes.
- Strain the already cooked quinoa through a strainer
- Put it back to a warm pot and let it sit without heat for additional fifteen minutes.
- Adhering to these steps ensures that you get light and fluffy quinoa, not clumpy and wet one.