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“Quinoa is gluten free and higher in protein than most other grains which makes it a far more appealing option for many people who have gluten allergies or perhaps are seeking less meat based sources of protein.”

 

Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard of the latest trend in healthy grains, Quinoa. And unless you are strangely gifted you probably, upon first reading it, had no idea how to pronounce it. Quinoa (pronounced Keenwah) is a grain crop used for its seeds. Generally, the seeds are cooked much like rice. Originating from the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Equador, Columbia and Chile, Quinoa was domesticated for consumption some 3,000 years ago and was considered the mother of all grains. In 2013, the food and agriculture organization of the United Nation, named it the year of Quinoa recognizing the huge rise in International consumption.

Quinoa is gluten free and higher in protein than most other grains which makes it a far more appealing option for many people who have gluten allergies or perhaps are seeking less meat based sources of protein. One cup  contains 8 grams of protein because unlike other grains, it contains lysine as well as eight other amino acids, making it a complete protein. Trader Joe’s stores offer a wonderful quinoa based pasta that is a great substitute for the usual wheat based pastas and tastes just as good.

On an ecological note, the global popularity of quinoa has caused some concerns for availability in its indigenous areas. Because of the high demand, the prices have been driven up, therefore making what was a local food now more of a luxury. It is seen as valuable resource for the area which brings in profit and communities and local farmers are now taking care to save a portion of the quinoa crop for their own use.

There are many ways quinoa can be used in cooking in easy dishes for your family. My family often incorporates it into salads and we have even baked it into muffins. It is the perfect substitute for rice with tacos or a stir fry, and can provide a yummy alternative to soy or tempeh in a veggie burger. It can even makes a great stand in for oatmeal as a warm and sweet breakfast with berries or sliced apples and maple syrup.

 

Simple Quinoa Porridge:

1 cup quinoa

1 cup milk

½ tsp. cinnamon

maple syrup

In a pot on the stove, bring milk and quinoa and cinnamon to a boil. Once boiling bring the temperature down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until fluffy. Spoon into bowls and serve drizzled in maple syrup and fresh fruit. Add nuts for extra protein.

 

For some easy ways to get quinoa into your diet:

Trader Joe’sQuinoa Fusilli pasta. www.traderjoes.com

Nature Crops Quinoa Flakesa great gluten free breading for chicken. www.vitacost.com

Simply7 Quinoa Chipslight, salty and crispy in flavors like cheddar, sea salt and barbecue.www.simply7snacks.com

Cocomama Hot Quinoa cereal – in a light coconut milk sauce and real fruit. These come in individual packs and a variety of flavors. www.shop.cocomamafoods.com

 

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