Quinoa: A Super Grain
Quinoa (keen-WAH) is one of those exotic super grains that everyone knows is good for you, but many are uncertain as to how to best use the grain.
Mother of All Grains
Quinoa Facts. Quinoa is another ancient New World food, considered the "mother of all grains" by Incan civilizations, and it has very high protein content.
Quinoa grains are coated with saponins, a bitter protective coating that can be removed by soaking and rinsing.
Quinoa is a rather small disk shaped grain, which belongs to the Chenopodium family. Quinoa has a pale yellow color but other colours such as red, orange or purple are also possible. The quinoa seeds are covered with a resin like bitter substance that must be removed to become edible.
The nutritional value of quinoa has been known for a long time to be superior to traditional cereals and is, in fact, superior to milk solids. Quinoa is higher in lysine than wheat, and the amino acid content of quinoa seed is considered well balanced for human and animal nutrition.
Edible Energizer. One-half cup of cooked quinoa contains protein and amino acids in a gluten free grain aid. Helps repair muscles and aids post workout recovery.
One-half cup cooked quinoa will give you 2 percent of your daily calcium, 15 percent of magnesium and 5 percent of potassium.
Uses for Quinoa
Quinoa is used to make flour, soup, breakfast cereal, and alcohol. Most quinoa sold in the United States has been sold as whole grain that is cooked separately as rice or in combination dishes such as pilaf. Quinoa flour works well as a starch extender when combined with wheat flour or grain, or corn meal, in making biscuits, bread, and processed food.
Seed coats (pericarp) are usually covered with bitter saponin compounds that must be removed before human consumption. Saponins may also be toxic to fish. Deresination (removal of the pericarp and the saponins by mechanical or chemical means) does not affect the mineral content of the seed (Johnson and Croissant, 1990).
The marketable seed is usually white in color. The leaves are frequently eaten as a leafy vegetable, like spinach. Seed imported from growers in South America is sold in the United States in health food stores and gourmet food shops at high prices.
Gluten Free and Tasty
Quinoa is becoming very popular because it is gluten free, has a nice taste and is very nutritious. The protein content (14 percent) is very high for grains. Other nutritional highlights of the quinoa (per 100g) are: 5.9 g fiber, 210 mg magnesium, 60 mg calcium, 9.2 mg iron. Quinoa grain has a lower sodium content and is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn.
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