Who Eats Quinoa?

Dish with Quinoa

Whole grains are an important part of a well balanced and healthy diet.  The problem is that the developed world has been in the habit of eating processed grains since the industrial revolution made it possible.  So how does one get past the fluffy white texture of sandwich bread or hamburger buns and embrace a coarser grain with its hull, bran, and germ still attached?  Experimentation is the answer. 

Ancient grains, that is, grains that were part of the diet of ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and Egyptians, have become more popular in recent years, making their way into artisanal breads and salad bars all over the United States.  Quinoa is no exception.  Quinoa was domesticated by the Incas two thousand years BCE in the Andes, although evidence shows it was used long before that as animal feed. 

It contains the essential amino acid lysine, as well as a good range of B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, and iron, and is never processed as the grain is too tiny to do so effectively.  It is cooked similarly to the method used for rice.  It is easy to store and easy to prepare.  It can be sprouted, after being well rinsed (it can have a bitter saponin coating) in 2-4 hours, which makes it more nutritious and softens the seeds so it can be added to salads. 

This is an easy grain to try , has become increasingly available both as a whole uncooked grain and in cereal flakes, and due to its small size, can be cooked in just a few minutes.  A quinoa salad tossed in a little vinaigrette can last several days in the fridge to make an easy side dish, and can be used as a topping to add some zip and variety to a regular green salad.  Quinoa is a great way to painlessly add whole grains for someone seeking a more balanced and healthy diet.


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