Quinoa–A Great Super Food!

For breakfast, lunch or dinner, quinoa is a healthy option to add to your diet. Quinoa is a seed grain that has been cultivated in the Andean region for over 7,000 years and was considered sacred by the Inca Empire. It was later replaced almost completely by cereals such as barley, wheat and corn.

I consider quinoa  a “superfood” because it is a complete protein, and it’s packed with fiber and other good stuff. Quinoa is a slow releasing carbohydrate that gives you a full feeling for a long time.  This is ideal for weight control and to maintain adequate blood sugar levels. It is a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids, and includes lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.

A cup of quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein, about twice that of other grains. Quinoa is a very good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, making it especially valuable for persons which migraine headaches, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. It is a good source of riboflavin, which is necessary for energy productions within cells. Quinoa is gluten-free and is a great source of fiber.

Cooking with quinoa is simple and is just like cooking rice. The most basic method of cooking quinoa is to boil it in water and simmer for 10-12 minutes. You need 1 measure of quinoa to 2 measures of water. All the water will be absorbed by the quinoa. Some quinoa has a coating of bitter tasting saponins. In that case, you need to pre-rinse the quinoa to remove this coating before cooking.  Once you have cooked the quinoa you can add it as a base for meat dishes instead of rice. You can also include it in salads and soups. I recently used it in Minestrone soup in place of pasta. It will take on the flavor of the foods you cook with and adds its own little bite to the taste.

Another way of incorporating quinoa in your meals is in the form of quinoa flour. Quinoa flour has a pleasant, nutty taste. It makes delicious bread, muffins, pasta, pancakes and more. When using quinoa flour in baking, substitute half the amount of all-purpose flour with quinoa flour, and then use all-purpose flour for the remaining half. Depending on the taste you are looking for in your baked good, you may want to use less quinoa flour than all-purpose. Experiment yourself and find what suits your taste buds best.

Try this easy Quinoa Recipe

2 small onions, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of Quinoa
2 cups of water
2 vegetarian soup stock cubes

First add the finely chopped onions, the minced garlic and sea salt to the olive oil in a pan or wok.
Saute until onions are slightly brown. Then add chopped red pepper and continue to sauté until onions are caramelized. Add water, then the stock cubes and quinoa and bring to a simmer. Stir once after 5 minutes then simmer for 15 minutes until water has been cooked in.

Enjoy Quinoa in your diet. Experiment by adding it to dishes where you normally use rice (think stir fries or soup). You’ll find it is a healthy, tasty addition to your meals!

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Nuts – I Love Nuts

Nuts may be small, but they are packed full of nutrition. Most nuts are filled with heart-friendly fats, vitamins, proteins and minerals. Good things do come in small packages. Almonds
Almonds are a favourite among most nut eaters. They are rich in calcium and are one of the lowest-calorie nuts. An ounce (30g) of almonds has about 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat. Apart from that, they are also rich in vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Antioxidants that are present in almonds help fight inflammation, lung cancer and cognitive decline associated with aging. Almonds remove ‘bad’ cholesterol from the body and help clean up the colon. The natural oils and rich fiber content in these nuts nourish the lining of our digestive tract.

Each pistachio nut has only 3 calories. These nuts have lutein and zeaxanthin, which are relatives of beta-carotene. These components may help in reducing the risk with macular degeneration associated with aging.

Pecans are rich in beta-sitosterol. This plant steroid is found to relieve symptoms associated with BPH (enlarged prostate). They contain high levels of anti-oxidants that help reduce unhealthy oxidation of LDL cholesterol in blood, helping us fight heart disease. An ounce (30g) of pecan has about 200 calories of energy and contains 3 grams of protein and 21 grams of fat. Recent studies have shown that pecans have the capacity to lower one’s bad cholesterol and promote heart health. They are rich in vitamin E, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, zinc and fiber.

Walnuts are sort of a super food. The anti-inflammatory benefits of consuming walnuts are particularly helpful for people suffering from arthritis and asthma. Walnuts are a source of ‘good’ cholesterol rich in ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that protects the heart and reduces bone breakdown. The ellagic acid present in these nuts is known for its cancer fighting character.

Hazelnuts contain a type of vitamin B that helps prevent heart disease, certain cancers, birth defects and Alzheimer’s disease. These nuts contain an amino acid known as arginine and magnesium which relaxes the blood vessels and eases out blood pressure. Hazelnuts are particularly good for dieters as they taste like a treat and keep them filled for longer.

Cashews have less fat than most nuts. They are rich in anti-oxidants that are heart friendly, containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in doses almost equal to what is found in some fish. Cashews are rich in copper, iron, zinc and magnesium. They keep your energy level at a high no matter what activity you are doing.

Nuts make for great snacks, but because they are rich in calories, it is important to know how much you are eating and control your portions. Nuts contain vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and anti-oxidants all of which are important in a healthy lifestyle. The fat and fiber content in nuts make them very filling and satisfying. Replace your chips, cookies, donuts and other high calorie snacks with nuts, the better alternative snack food. Eating nuts help contribute to good health.

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