The Protein Powerhouse: Quinoa

Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is one of nature’s miracle foods, packed with vitamins and minerals as well as high protein content. Botanically, quinoa is not actually a grain, but a seed that belongs to the goosefoot family. An unsung hero in many dieters’ plans, quinoa is a versatile food that can be cooked in different styles to suit varied palettes. This super-food is loaded with health benefits and can easily be included in your everyday diet. What makes it even better is that it tastes fantastic.

So, how does quinoa help?

Quinoa

Rich in fibre, quinoa has a lower glycemic index that controls unhealthy blood sugar rushes. As a low-cholesterol source of complex carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats, quinoa gives you a feeling of fullness and keeps hunger pangs at bay for much longer, which means less unhealthy snacking between meals. Quinoa also has more protein than grains like barley and wheat. A cup of quinoa has almost 10 grams of protein -much higher than the same amount of egg whites or chicken. Packed with all eight essential amino acids, quinoa is what can be called a complete protein food. High in vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and low on calories and fat, quinoa is a dieter’s dream!

If you are a vegan, lactose intolerant, or just want to keep away from dairy products, quinoa can be the perfect substitute to give your body some much-needed calcium. A cup of cooked quinoa can provide as much as 30 mg of plant-derived calcium (and an impressive quantity of magnesium, zinc, potassium and other minerals). The calcium present in this seed takes care of bone function and helps regulate heart contractions, while the other minerals work on nerve and muscle function.

Quinoa

The high vitamin B content helps keep the brain sharp and acts as a mood stabiliser, while vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps with energy production. The presence of copper and manganese stimulates the production of the cellular damage-fighting enzyme superoxide dismutase, which helps prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions.

With a nutty taste and a chewy texture, quinoa is tasty and makes for a filling meal. Surprisingly, this seed is not too difficult to cook and can easily become part of a balanced diet. Quinoa cooks - and even tastes - like other grains. Once the bitter coating is removed by steaming or soaking, the seeds can easily be cooked along with vegetables or served as a healthier

ubstitute for rice, wheat or corn. Serve it hot like oatmeal - with nuts, fresh fruits, and milk - or as a side dish with your main meal. Bite into a quinoa cookie, because this seed is a healthy option in every way. Full of phyto nutrients, quinoa can also help balance your blood sugar. But you might still want to keep away from that second helping of dessert!

Just as the Incas did thousands of years ago, include this protein powerhouse in your diet and enjoy its multiple health benefits.    

- Pallavi

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shelled peas/green beans
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 green or red pepper
  • 1 medium ripe tomato
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley/cilantro/basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method: Soak the quinoa in cold water for10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and drain. Place into a cooking pot and add water and salt. Bring to a full boil and slow-cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Peel and slice the carrots and peppers, and steam the vegetables for a few minutes. Rinse in cold water immediately to retain colour. Chop the tomatoes, cucumber, and herbs. Blend together the ingredients for the dressing. Gently mix in the vegetables, quinoa and dressing. Garnish with chopped walnuts, and your summery quinoa salad is ready!