Quinoa is a grain-like crop closely related to spinach and beets. The plant recently gained attention among scientist because of its ability to grow in harsh conditions and rich nutritional value. Chenopodium quinoa can reach 3-6 feet in height in a well-drained sandy soil or alkaline sol. Its seeds appear in September and measure about two millimeters in diameter. Their outer coat must be removed because it contains a bitter substance called sapoins. The pre-Columbian Incas considered the quinoa a sacred food and the mother grain. Spanish conquistadors deprived the Incas of the crops in order to conquer them.
The year 2013 was declared “International Year of Quinoa” by the United Nations General Assembly as a tribute to the Andean people that preserved the plant for future generations. Quinoa nutrition can be the answer to world hunger and poverty because of its balanced fat, protein and mineral composition.Even NASA is considering it for its Controlled Ecological Life Support System that will be necessary for spaceflights that last very long.
The quinoa nutrition is superior because unlike other cereal, it contains calcium, iron, phosphorus and essential amino acids. The superfood is a complete protein source, rivaling that of soy beans. Vegetarian find it hard to get all the amino acids and protein from one food source so they combine foods like rice and beans. People that suffer from food allergies and cannot tolerate wheat, barley and corn can use quinoa as a substitute.
Quinoa seeds are a moderate source of energy and provide 368 calories for 100 grams. The 7 grams of insoluble fiber reduces the secretion of bile acids and lowers blood cholesterol levels, improving cardiovascular function. One of the gluten-free staple foods, quinoa nutrition is suitable for people suffering from celiac disease. The rich magnesium content, 197 mg per 100 gr contributes to the health of the blood vessels and their elasticity. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels that lead to the brain si it alleviates migraines and depression symptoms. Iron is crucial for the production of hemoglobin. The 4.6 mg found in quinoa stimulates the immune system and prevents fatigue. Potassium helps control blood pressure and heart rate. The plant has a rich potassium content of 563 mg and also is a source of vitamin E, B, antioxidants and linoleic acid.
Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking rice and it takes about 15 minutes. Add 2 cups of water per one part seeds into a pot and after the water boils cover it until ring-shaped sprouts start popping. You can add coconut oil or butter to add flavor.