The Quinoa Edge
Add this superfood to your plate for a healthy boost
Packed with equal measures of crunch and nutrients, quinoa is a tasty addition to a wholesome diet. This gluten-free seed is packed with the goodness of antioxidants (flavonoids), protein and fibre. Native to South America, quinoa (ki-nwa) is, in fact, an ancient grain that was once the staple diet of the Incas. Hundreds of years since, the nutritional content of these seeds hasn't changed significantly. It is rich in quercetin and kaempferol, flavonoids known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Quinoa is packed with phytochemicals, such as saponins, phytosterols and phytoecdysteroids that have a positive impact on our metabolic, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health."Compared to other cereals, quinoa seeds are low in carbo-hydrates and higher in protein than other grains," says Mumbai-based clinical nutritionist Shweta Bhatia. A cup gives you about eight grams of protein. Quinoa has all the essential amino acids that makes it a good source of plant protein. It is also abundant in lysine, an amino acid essential for growth and tissue repair. For those looking to lose weight, it is an ideal substitute for rice. Its high- fibre content makes it a great low-glycaemic index food. Simply put, it keeps hunger and cravings at bay by keeping you satiated for longer. "It is also a good alternative for those trying to keep diabetes in check," says Bhatia. That's not all, it is a powerhouse abundant in minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and vitamins B and E. To treat yourself to light and fluffy quinoa, first rinse the seeds under running water. This will remove some of the bitterness. Then cook it like you would cook rice. Just remember to use two parts of water for one part of quinoa. Give it 10 to 15 minutes or wait until the water is soaked. When cooked, this slightly nutty grain 'pops' releasing a white 'tail' or bran. Quinoa is a versatile ingredient. Use generously to add volume to your salad (right), blend into smoothies or stir-fry with veggies. For some Indian flavour, swap it with rice and make pulao. In fact, you can make breakfast super healthy by trying out quinoa upma. First sauté the onions and spices in hot oil, add veggies, toss in washed quinoa, water and some salt and cook until done. Top it off with a dash of lemon juice.
Sources: National Center for Biotechnology Information; University of Maryland Medical Center; Journal of Cereal Science; bbcgoodfood.com
Total time: 10 minutes Servings: 21/2 cup quinoa, sprouted; or 1/4 cup quinoa, soaked and sprouted overnight1/4 cup cucumber, diced1/4 capsicum, chopped1/2 tbsp lemon juice1/4 cup walnuts, chopped1/2 tbsp olive oil1/2 tsp salt1/4 tsp crushed pepper
Mix all ingredients together for a healthy salad.
Variation: Millets or brown rice can be substituted for quinoa. Add a dash of colour and amp up the nutrients with bell peppers and cherry tomatoes.Nutritional info per serving: 140 Kcals, 15 g carbs, 3 g protein, 2 g fibre, 7g fat
ADAPTED FROM PREVENTION INDIA. (c) February 2011 LIVING MEDIA INDIA LIMITED.