Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Quinoa: A resurrection or an epiphany?

The grain of the Gods. It has become a common household word. Its reemergence has made it so popular that the esteemed United Nations decided to award it its own  "Year". 2013 was declared the year of the Quinoa. 

The positive from that publicity; awareness of this ancient grain which is available across the globe for all of us to enjoy. Its taste, variety, nutritional value and health benefits makes the curiosity a tad interesting. Gluten Free, it is a good substitute to the gluten-heavy rice.

The word Quinoa originating from the Spanish language is pronounced as KI- Nwa or then kee-nu-wah by the rest of the world. It is grown on tall stalks across the continent of South America. Colourful little beads with a slight pop that bursts in ones mouth when eaten the choice is wide; White/ivory/pearl or Red/purple/pink/orange and Black/grey.
Quinoa grows in abundance in South America and originated in its rugged mountains of the Andes 4000 years ago. I cannot help but wonder what political motive left us starved of this amazing grain for the past decades. Time to catch up then.

Unlike rice, Quinoa is rich in nutrients, but it is cooked similarly to rice. Flavoured with salt and spices it can be cooked in water or vegetable stock /chicken broth. A good substitute to wheat and rice it has more health benefits then both. Antioxidants and flavonoids similar to cranberries and longanberries that help keep the urinary tract clean; it also contains the same Omega fats that fish oils provide us with to help our brain cells grow. These fats do not seem to lessen once cooked.
Important minerals like manganese, phosphorous, copper, magnesium,  fiber, folate and zinc also make up its DNA. These anti-inflammatory  agents make it sound like a multi-vitamin! 
With some personal experience I can reassure you that these above mentioned minerals help your aging, creaking bones from stiffness and achiness.
Interestingly it is the Saponins in the outer casing, which are the best source of anti-inflammation. But being bitter in taste this is removed when processed; much like the husk of the grain of rice. 

Making this magical gem of a grain an integral part of your daily diet may help you reduce the risk of diabetes, cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases and colon cancer.

Soaking them overnight before cooking it takes away the tad of bitterness the outside of this ancient grain can sometimes have. If you do not have the time soak them for a few hours and drain. 

Recipes to follow soon for all of you to try and test out. Do not hesitate to share your thoughts about this beautiful tiny drop of a gem.

For cooking this grain in home made stock download
Niloufer's Kitchen: Soups

For recipes with Quinoa from the blog click

Images from Google.

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