What is Quinoa? — the next superfood

What is quinoa?
Southwest Quinoa Salad. Photo courtesy of Greatest.com

In the last couple years, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has experienced a global explosion in popularity. But what is quinoa? Labeled as a “superfood” by nutritionists, quinoa is nutrient-rich grain grown in Andes of South America.

The rise of quinoa in the U.S. can be credited to its high protein content. One study found that 15 percent of the total content of quinoa is protein, more than double the amount found in most standard grains. The study also revealed that quinoa has a complete amino acid profile, meaning that with each serving, you’re giving your body all of the nine key building blocks for making protein.

In addition to being packed with protein, this superfood also packs a punch. Quinoa is a natural appetite suppressant and is high in anti-oxidants, which can slow the aging process and decrease the risk of cancer. It has also been known to lower blood glucose levels in individuals with diabetes.

How Easy Is It To Cook Quinoa?

Not only is quinoa healthy, it is also surprisingly versatile. It can be served hot or cold; for breakfast, lunch or dinner; and as a substitute for rice, barley or couscous. Quinoa can also be ground into flour. As a matter of fact, Cooking Light has compiled 23 recipes on how to cook quinoa.

Another reason for quinoa’s increase in popularity is its simplicity. It can be prepared — from start to finish — quickly. The cooking time for quinoa is 15 to 20 minutes. One part quinoa to two parts water or broth. Bring to a boil, simmer until light and fluffy and then season as desired.

Quinoa is relatively new in North America, but it was a staple of the ancient Incan diet. The Incas considered quinoa as the ‘mother of all grains’, and history of quinoa dates back almost 3000-4000 years ago.

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