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Getting to Know Quinoa as a Super Food Substitute for Grains

Quinoa is a little-known seed that is a great substitute for grains any time of day. This super food is packed with healthy nutrients, and offers great health benefits, especially for vegetarian and gluten-free diets. Read on to discover how to incorporate quinoa into your life.

Using Quinoa in Whole Grain Recipes for Super Food Goodness

If you haven't heard much about quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), consider yourself among a crowd. Many people have yet to discover the encouraging details surrounding this little-known super food. It's not exactly a pantry staple in most kitchens, but the more we know about quinoa, it may be soon.

Quinoa is a seed (not a grain) that looks like rice. It has a unique, crunchy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. Believe it or not, quinoa is a close relative to chard, spinach, and beets. Once considered the Gold of the Incas, quinoa is earning worldwide respect as a healthy starch with some super qualities.

A True Complete Protein Source

A quick rundown of quinoa's list of nutrients will help you see why it's considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. Quinoa is a rich source of complete protein, meaning it supplies the body with all nine essential amino acids.

That fact alone makes quinoa a perfect choice for vegetarians and others who are concerned about getting enough quality protein in their diet. Quinoa is especially rich in lysine, an amino acid essential for healthy tissue growth and repair.

Quinoa's Best Qualities

Besides being a complete protein, quinoa is loaded with dietary fiber, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. Another abundant mineral found in quinoa is magnesium, said to be beneficial for relaxing blood vessels. This quality benefits those who suffer from headaches, even migraines.

This super seed also contains manganese, which joins with copper to form an enzyme that guards against cell damage from free radicals.

These elements combine to provide health benefits that include reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes, cataracts, heart disease, and gallstones. Consuming quinoa is an effective way for pregnant women to increase iron intake naturally, an important factor in the healthy development of their babies.

Quinoa is also lower in carbohydrates than other grains. Thus, many people can substitute quinoa for grains with less beneficial qualities. This is a filling food with a low glycemic index, releasing its energy slowly to satisfy your appetite longer. This is a great way to stay on track with weight loss programs without having to starve yourself.

Those on gluten-free diets will also appreciate this whole grain substitute that has many of the same characteristics of grains and rice. There are numerous ways to use quinoa in your favorite recipes.

Quinoa Serving Suggestions

Raw quinoa is often pre-rinsed during packaging, but if it isn't, simply rinse it in a colander lined with cheesecloth. From there, just follow the cooking directions on the box. Quinoa is cooked much like rice, with a 2 to 1 ratio of water to quinoa. When cooked, the seeds have a light texture and a mild, nutty or somewhat crunchy flavor.

Cooked quinoa in used in many pilaf dishes, adding stocks, seasonings and vegetables. This is one of the best ways to try this rice substitute to see how you like it. Quinoa also makes a light, fluffy side dish on its own. With the right seasonings and herbs, it will go great alongside fish, meat, or chicken as a tasty starch with a great crunchy texture.

Another way to serve quinoa is in salads. Simply add spring onions, kidney beans, green bell pepper, sweet corn kernels, and celery in a bowl of cooked and cooled quinoa. Toss everything together, and you'll have a light salad full of flavor. For a little extra zing, mix in a little lemon juice or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Quinoa is suitable to serve at any meal, and comes in several forms. It is even ground into fine flour for baking purposes. Quinoa makes nice breakfast porridge with nuts and berries, or with milk as a cereal. The flour can be combined with whole grain wheat or used as a substitute.

Once you begin to include quinoa in your diet, you'll begin looking for different ways to serve it, and you won't have to try hard to find great-tasting possibilities! This is one versatile super food that deserves a place in your pantry.

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