Adventures or Misadventures---No matter. We're holding-on tight & riding the wind!

2.07.2012

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Quinoa

So I stumbled on a great recipe for Quinoa Nuggets thanks to a favorite-blog-friend of a phenomenal non-blog-but-also-a-blog-friend of mine (long story short, we grew up together - great family, we're ALL good friends - and she happens to have a blog, which I follow cause she's amazing, and I'm a good friend like that)

Plus did I mention she's amazing, plus it's a joy to follow her blog?  Well she is, and it is.  Done & done.

Anyhow, back to the rad recipe.

I went about leaving a comment for its author since her recipe looks like a blast & totally yummy to try - but I've gotta come up with a GF replacement option for the bread crumbs she opts for (and there's NO opting out of that coating step entirely - must. have. a. replacement. option).  While perusing the other comments, I was shocked by (considering this sudden hyper-organic, alternatively-health-conscious, renaissance age we've been catapulted into the past 5 years now) how many commentators were unfamiliar with Quinoa.

Don't get me wrong, this emphasis on more natural-health is great (to a point).  I guess in my opinion, however, with our culture so overly saturated with this pseudo-hippy /alternative /organic /green /health-focused movement lately, it almost seems like Quinoa would be a basic health food essential - aka old news.  Especially now that gluten-free is the new black.

...Guess not.

So I figured, if there were others still in the dark about Quinoa - and who are either wanting to intro some exotic variety or healthier options into their diets, or perhaps just want to know more so they can kick their neighbor's trash at Quinoa trivia - then I can oblige with some valuable information... and you can most definitely consider it food for thought!  :)  (pun intended.)

For those on the fence over Quinoa, take the leap!

Due to allergies + a severe Celiac family history, Quinoa is my best food friend!  How do I adore this super food?  Let me count the ways (or not)... Quinoa means that I can still eat SOMETHING, without guilt and without suffering adverse reactions.   (No lie, am allergic to wheat but am also allergic to MANY things including the main go-to food replacements for Celiacs like soy, potatoes, corn, and especially rice).   So its an allergy-friendly, safe food for me.

Hence my love affair with it.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE:  Quinoa is not only a great wheat-free/gluten-free alternative to other grains, this mighty miracle is actually not even a grain/cereal/grass at all but is related to beets & spinach! (Love both!)  Plus it is healthier & more protein-rich than its mainstream counterparts.  Which makes Quinoa totally rocks socks!
Red Quinoa (dry/raw)
Besides its high-protein content (12-18% of it  consists of protein), Quinoa's also quite rich in many other essential vitamins & minerals.  Alone, a 3.5 ounce serving size of Quinoa (uncooked) yields the following percentages of the US's recommended daily allowance:  Vitamin B1 = 31%, Vitamin B2 = 27%, Vitamin B6 = 38%, Vitamin B9 = 46%, Vitamin E = 16%, Iron = 35%, Magnesium = 55%, Phosphorus = 65%, and Zinc = 33%.

Now, I'm not gonna go all "Food, Inc." on ya, but here's another perspective to keep in mind. Speaking on a biochemical level, Quinoa's a skillfully-cut puzzle piece for our diet, as it is perfectly balanced for humans' needs when it comes to essential amino acids, therefore its a COMPLETE source of protein for us.  Such a bonus!

What does THAT mean?  Well let's take just one of those amino acids, for example, Lysine - which alone is extremely vital for our bodies to function properly.

From a vanity stand-point, Lysine means less wrinkles as it is essential for our bodies' natural production of collagen/elastin.   Below the surface, however, Lysine plays a great role in calcium absorption, building muscle protein, recovering from surgeries or injuries, hormone production, enzyme production, antibodies' production, while also helping in a seratonin capacity to calm the intestinal tract, and to help balance cortisol levels within the body which = less stress.  In addition, Lysine helps moderate blood pressure (which lowers the risks of a stroke), is proving beneficial in helping turn cancer cells on themselves in certain treatments, and finally, via hormone production/achieving hormonal balance in men, Lysine improves male fertility issues.  (Hope you're not thinking, "Blah, blah, blah..." cause this is good stuff!)  Pretty important I'd say, since apparently Lysine deficiency = immunodeficiency, and that's something which is impacting each and everyone of us in one way or another.  Lysine is in fact crucial in this medical day & age.

So, why single-out Lysine here?

Lysine is an amino acid which the body cannot synthesize on its own.  Nope, can't do it!  Therefore we must take it in via diet or supplements.  Quinoa, my friends, is substantially more abundant in Lysine than both wheat AND rice.

Staggering, eh?  Yeah I'm thinking more like mind-blowing when you consider all of the other things that we are already pre-programmed to put into our bodies.  Sadly what we've BEEN eating seems nutritionally empty by comparison.

Considering all the modern ailments our health is up against these days, its more than overdue that we take the ancient Quinoa cue from the Incas, as they have been growing & eating quinoa for THOUSANDS of years. Less common than a lot of other food choices, perhaps, and peculiar looking to say the least, its still worth its weight in gold today.

CRAZY FACTOID?  The Spanish Conquistadors thought Quinoa was evil as the Incas revered it as sacred & used Quinoa not only in their diet but also in their native ceremonies.  So the Spanish tried to eradicate Quinoa entirely, and then imposed mostly wheat farming on the Incas (from celiacs & allergics worldwide: "Blast you, Conquistadors!!!").  Good thing a group of renegade Incas stole away with some elsewhere into the Andes mountains and were able to preserve the crop.  Otherwise we might not have it today!  :)

Quinoa is easy to digest & totally scrumptious - though the slightly nutty aftertaste takes a little getting used to.  Quinoa is so versatile.  It can be used wherever you'd normally use rice (think Cali rolls, Tabbouleh, salads, even Pilaf - my family loves it with Pollo con Crema, in GF tortillas for burritos, and cooked with broth instead of water + combined with veggies as our substitute for Thanksgiving stuffing).  It's also a great replacement for couscous (which I miss tremendously - so Quinoa's especially great in Mediterranean dishes)... its even a great breakfast choice instead of oatmeal, Cream of Rice/Wheat, Zoom, or Malt o' Meal.  Just add a little butter + a splash of milk and brown sugar (or honey, if you'd rather) or even your favorite mix-ins, such as fruit, berries or jam.  Totally worth incorporating into your diet!
Quinoa Black Bean Tabbouleh
Quinoa Zucchini Salad
Red Quinoa Peas & Tofu Salad
Quinoa & Organic Blueberries for Breakfast!!!
BTW, best way (aka most affordable way) to purchase it is through Costco or in bulk, ala WINCO (though it may be carried in bins by Fred Meyer's, Yoke's, or Broulim's - it's usually more expensive at the latter locations).

(Now I'll step down from the soap box.)  If you don't believe me, run a search of your own.  Find books, educate yourself.  You'll thank me for the difference Quinoa will make in your life!

There you have it, data overload.  You're welcome.  Happy Quinoa-ing everybody!

:D

P.S.  If you're hankering to try some great Quinoa recipes, pop by and see Karina, the Gluten-Free Goddess, about some good eats.  She's even got some great dessert recipes (cookies, etc) that call for Quinoa.  Karina's divinely gifted, no lie.  

There's a handful of good ones available at thekitchn.com, strawberrypepper.com, finecooking.com

Perhaps you wanna give purging your routine/system of gluten or wheat just to clear the slate and see how you feel, but you're not sure you're brave enough to officially declare your life sans-gluten yet?  (It IS a commitment since it takes 14 days to get that very teeny tiny last bit of gluten out of your body.)  No worries, it's all about fooling yourself in the beginning anyhow.  Quinoa Nugget girl to the rescue!  She's got a killer Cucumber Mango Bites recipe, and THAT'S what reeled ME into her site at first.  It's all about wise choices.  The less processed your food choices, the better.  Funny thing once you break yourself of the addiction to drive thrus & instant foods that come from a shelf instead of the ground, the better, more flavored all the rest of your healthy foods will taste.  I promise.  :)

P.P.S.  If you're into sprouted "grains" in your diet, Quinoa sprouts in a glass of water in just a matter of a few hours, as opposed to the 12 or so hours necessary to sprout wheat.  Just another awesome FYI fact I figured you were dying to have! 


Love ya.  Mean it.   Now, it's naptime again.  :)

4 comments:

jen said...

This may just be the post that sends me over the fence. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

Heather said...

I had no idea you had allergies to food. That is awesome that something like this exists!

wendy said...

I love Quiona. (hubby, not so much) The only thing that bummed me out about it is, although it is PACKED with good nutrients as you mentioned, it is high in calories.
44 grams is 170 calories
I can't remember off the top of my head, but I googled it to find out how much that translated too, and it was under a cup.
Hope you are feeling better !!

S.I.F. said...

I love quinoa so much! It's seriously gotten to the point where I add it to almost everything! Makes me happy!

Spread Your Love For the Gusty Ridge Ranch

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