Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is an grain that originates from the Andes Mountains of South America. It was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes of the Inca civilization. It is gluten free and easily digested, as well as being versatile, quick and easy to prepare. Quinoa contains more protein than any grain. It is a complete protein, with a nearly ideal amino acid balance. It is also a good source of fibre, complex carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins B & E.
Cooked quinoa is excellent in hot casseroles and soups, stews, in stir-fries, or cold in salads. The seeds cook very quickly, in only 15 minutes. Uncooked seeds may be added to soups and stews as you would barley or rice and quinoa is often substituted for rice in rice dishes. Dry roasting quinoa in a pan or in the oven, before cooking will give a toasted flavor, and it can be cooked in fruit juice to add character to the flavor for use as a breakfast cereal or in desserts. Cold salads consisting of quinoa and chopped vegetables or cooked beans make a quick, easy, and nutritious dish. Quinoa flour is used in making pasta and a variety of baked goods such as pancakes, bread, muffins, and crackers. Quinoa seeds can be sprouted and eaten as raw, live food for snacks or in salads and sandwiches.
The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa's protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a childs protein needs for one day. The 6-7% fat of quinoa is relatively high when compared to other grains, but it boasts a low sodium content and also provides valuable starch and fiber. Quinoa also contains albumen, a protein that is found in egg whites, blood serum, and many plant and animal tissues. The seeds are gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative grain for those with gluten sensitivity.
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