Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wellness Wednesday / "Delia's Dose"

Today I want to talk about one of my FAVORITE things! It’s called Quinoa(pronounced KEEN-wah). It has been cultivated in South America since at least 3,000 B.C. The ancient Incas called it the “Mother Grain” and considered it sacred! The reason I love it is because it’s gluten free and it is very  high in protein. Let’s talk about why it is so good for you:

*It is considered a “complete protein” because it has all NINE essential amino acids. There are actually 20 that our body needs, 9 of them we can’t make on our own but are highly necessary, so we need to obtain them from our diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and play a big role in our metabolism(how many of us have used our metabolism as an excuse as to why we can’t lose weight? ”Oh I was born with a slow metabolism, that has to be it!”)
*Amino Acids also do things for us like increase our immune system, increase muscle mass, help with digestion, improve concentration, support liver function, curb hunger and help with our mood, help with blood clotting… just to name a few! Other foods that contain the most essential amino acids are meat, fish, poultry, eggs, buckwheat, amaranth, soy and sea foods.
*It is low in carbs, even lower than brown rice.
*It is high in phytonutrients, which help prevent chronic disease and reduce inflammation in the body.
*Quinoa has a very low risk of allergy and is very easily digested, which makes it a great food for young children.
*It is really easy to prepare! Usually cooks within 15-20 minutes. I make a big batch and keep in the fridge all week.

Quinoa has a fluffy consistency and a mild, nutty flavor and is very versatile! Use it as you would rice, couscous or pasta. I usually cook it in chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water, just to impart a richer flavor. You can also prepare it with onions and garlic, more like a rice pilaf style. It is great in hot casseroles, stews, stir fries or on top of a cold salad.
Most folks suggest rinsing it first because it produces a natural coating called saponin. It makes the seeds taste bad to pests and can cause indigestion if you eat it. Nowadays most quinoa you can buy has already been rinsed and will say “pre-rinsed.” There are actually 120 species of quinoa, but only 3 varieties are cultivated. Gold is the most common and the only one I’ve ever used, but there is also red and black quinoa. They also have quinoa flour which is great for gluten free baking!

Here are a couple ways I’ve used quinoa….

BREAKFAST QUINOA(instead of oatmeal or cereal)
Mix cooked quinoa with raisins or any other dried fruit, add a little yogurt and almonds or walnuts…Or perhaps skip the yogurt, add some milk and a drizzle of maple syrup! A delicious breakfast alternative which has a ton of protein and has a much lower glycemic index than oatmeal. I’ve had this warm or cold and love it both ways!

QUINOA with MIXED VEGETABLES(makes about 3 cups, serves 4/6-great side dish)
½ cup quinoa
1 tbsp oil of your choice(I use olive or coconut)
1 cup chopped mushrooms(your favorite kind)
¾ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup green bell peppers(or your favorite color!)
½ cup chopped celery
¾ cup vegetable broth
½ cup corn(fresh, canned, frozen)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium/high heat. Add the mushrooms, carrots, onions, bell peppers and celery. Cook, stirring the veggies until soft
Add the broth, bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
Stir in the corn, return to a simmer for about 5 more minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, add seasonings of your choice and serve!
(I’ve substituted many different veggies in this recipe: peas, zucchini, green beans, broccoli)
(from “1,000 Vegetarian Recipes” by Carol Gelles)

Have a Healthy Week!

DISCLAIMER: Delia is not a Doctor, Nutritionist, or Registered Dietitian. She is simply a person dedicated to eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle. She loves to help and inspire others to do the same!

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