Around 4,000 years ago, the Incas discovered that the quinoa seed (keen-wah) was edible. This protein-rich seed originated from Peru was replaced by cereals when the Spanish arrived. It was only recently that this superfood resurfaced with the advent of gluten-free diets.
Although technically a seed, it is cooked like grain and often used as a healthier alternative to the carb-laden pasta and rice!
But what’s so special about this pseudo cereal? Here’s everything you need to know about Quinoa!
Why is it a Super Grain?
1. Fibre Power: This grain is rich in protein and contains twice the fibre as rice and wheat, helping you against lifestyle health problems like constipation, heart diseases, diabetes and blood pressure. It also helps with other digestive disorders and gastric problems.
Fun fact: The fibre content in quinoa and the chewing it requires keeps the stomach feeling full and satisfied. This, in turn, may also help in weight loss!
2. Iron Man of Food: Quinoa seeds are rich in iron and help in the formation of haemoglobin! It also helps in the neurological functions of the brain. One cup of quinoa can provide almost 15 per cent of the required daily intake of iron.
Antioxidants: Quinoa contains two super nutrients–Lunasin and Quercetin–which have proven to help in fighting cancer. While Lunasin can bind to cancer cells and destroy them, Quercetin helps in controlling the spread of these cells.
Quinoa is also rich in flavonoids, an antioxidant that can prevent osteoporosis, diabetes and blood pressure levels.
Kinds of Quinoa
There are three major types of Quinoa: white, red and black. If you’re cooking it for the first time, you could opt for the white one because of its neutral taste. It feels similar to rice but is a little bit sweeter, making your transition easier. Also, it goes well with all your curries and spices.
On the other hand, the red and black varieties are a bit nuttier and earthier. These are more suitable for salads and cereals, along with a mix of watermelon, pumpkin or even flax seeds. If you’re looking to add some colour to your dishes, these varieties are your perfect options.
Quinoa is one of the easiest and most nutritious staple foods to cook. These seeds can easily replace all the other grains in your pantry in no time. Although there are different kinds of Quinoa–white, golden, red and black–the basic steps to cooking them are essentially the same.
You’ll need ¾ glass of water for a cup of dry quinoa that’ll yield around three cups of the cooked grain. The natural outer covering contains ‘saponin’, which can give out a bitter taste, so it is advisable to wash the seeds in a strainer thoroughly.
You can use a rice/pressure cooker or a covered pot to cook, which should take around 20 minutes for a cup.
For added flavour, you could use vegetable/chicken broth. To give it an Indian touch, you could add all the spices you use in your regular meals.
If you’ve just started working on your New Year’s resolutions, remember to add this super grain to your diet. Check out a range of quinoa you could add to your meals here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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