As one of the world’s most popular health foods, quinoa is one of only a few plants that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is very high in protein, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. And it is gluten free.
Although quinoa isn’t actually a grain, the Incas called it the “mother of all grains” and believed it to be sacred. Its edible seeds are prepared and eaten similarly to a grain.
There are three main types of quinoa—white, red and black—and you can typically find them in health food and general grocery stores. Just one cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein; 5 grams of fiber; 58 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of manganese; 30 percent of the RDA of magnesium, 28 percent of phosphorus, 19 percent of folate, 18 percent of copper, 15 percent of iron, 13 percent of zinc and 9 percent of potassium; over 10 percent of the RDA of vitamins B1, B2 and B6; and small amounts of calcium and vitamins E and B3. This powerhouse of nutrients comes in at 222 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fat per cooked cup. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids.
Quercetin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is found in quinoa in even higher amounts than in typical high-quercetin foods such as cranberries. The seed also contains large amounts of kaempferol, an antioxidant being considered as a cancer treatment. Quercetin and kaempferol also have anti-viral and anti-depressant effects.
Numerous studies show that fiber can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss, and quinoa is more than twice as high in fiber than most grains.
Quinoa has a low glycemic index score, which is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and even heart disease.
Mainly because of its high nutrient content and how easy it is to grow and use, NASA scientists consider quinoa suitable to grow in outer space. The United Nations called 2013 “The International Year of Quinoa” because of the seed’s numerous nutrients and potential to contribute to worldwide food security.
Easy sproutingAlthough quinoa is very high in several minerals that the modern diet tends to lack—magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron—it also contains phytic acid, which can bind these minerals and reduce their absorption. In sprouts, however, the phytic acid content is reduced, making the minerals more bioavailable.
Sprouting makes grains, seeds and legumes easier to digest and produces additional vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B and carotene. To sprout quinoa, put a cup of the seeds in a mesh sprout bag and soak overnight in a bowl of alkaline water. The next day, pour off the water and rinse. Put the bag in a colander and let the excess water drain off. Rinse and drain the seeds twice again, a few hours apart. Rinse twice a day until sprouted. It will take one to two days for little sprouts to form.
Vegetable Quinoa Salad
Try this delicious sprouted quinoa salad for a superpower dish that is delicious and highly nutritious.
3 cups assorted chopped vegetables such as mushrooms, red bell peppers, carrots, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, celery or any you like 1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme, sage or rosemary 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt pinch or two of cayenne pepper 1 Tbsp coconut aminos 1 Tbsp coconut vinegar 2 Tbsp alkaline water 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, flax seed oil or hemp seed oil 1 garlic clove, minced 1/4 tsp mustard powder 1 cup sprouted quinoa
Toss all ingredients except quinoa in a bowl and allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to three hours in the refrigerator. Drain off excess marinade. Add the sprouted quinoa, toss well and serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for one to two days.
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle® and founder of The Living Foods Institute, which offers healthy lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging and more. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 800-844-9876, or visit www.LivingFoodsInstitute.com