Is Quinoa Worth the Hype?

Quinoa has been in vogue for a few years now. Ten years ago, none of us knew how to say it. Now it’s everywhere and replacing things in staple recipes — we saw it in a buffalo chicken dip recipe the other day, replacing the chicken! We aren’t quite ready to use it like that, replacing significant components of dishes, but we do like it. It has a great texture, both chewy and fluffy. We love interesting textures that we aren’t used to because it makes us slow down and take note of our food, helping us not to overeat.
Some people call it a superfood. We’re always hesitant with that label; no single food can fix health problems. But we do like quinoa’s health benefits.
Quinoa is a seed, not a grain as many people think. It has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein — which most plant proteins are not. Additionally, with high levels of magnesium, quinoa can reduce post-meal blood sugar spikes. It’s also high in iron, fiber, protein, antioxidants and has a low GI while it boosts metabolism. Quinoa can also protect you from kidney stones as it helps regulate potassium levels. It also has almost twice as much fiber as most grains, which contributes to its low GI.
A cup of quinoa has 222 calories, more than eight grams of protein, more than five grams of fiber and more than 39 grams of carbs. It has 30 percent of your daily recommended amount of both magnesium and manganese, 28 percent of your phosphorous, 19 percent of your folate, 18 percent of your copper, 15 percent of your iron, 13 percent of your zinc and nine percent of your potassium. The antioxidant-packed seed is pretty amazing. Yes, 39 grams of carbs is high for a serving, but the high amount of fiber and protein give the seed a low GI of 53.
Before cooking quinoa, it must be rinsed to remove the toxic saponin that coats it. When you buy quinoa in the grocery store, it has been cleaned, but it’s better to do it a second time. The saponin is reserved and used as an antiseptic for skin injuries in South America. At one point, scientists bred quinoa without the saponin coating, but birds ate all of it before the harvest.
Outside of health benefits, we also like that quinoa is fast cooking, unlike rice which has a similar role as a side dish in a meal. We also like that it is a chameleon of a food: it can be used in spicy meals and eaten as an alternative to breakfast oatmeal. It’s great in a savory salad but also excellent as a very simple substitute for rice in rice pudding.
So, with all this in mind, maybe you would like to add this seed to your kitchen staples. And if you are at all hesitant to cook with it, here are some directions to get you started!

Banner Image: Vi..Cult, Wikimedia

September 16, 2019
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