Let me give you a little history about quinoa. It was cultivated in the Andes region of South America more than 5,000 years ago in elevations of over 10,000 feet. That area was divided up between the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. Today, the main producers of quinoa are Bolivia and Peru. Quinoa is a hardy grain that can survive in high altitudes, thin and cold air, hot sun, salty or sandy soil, little rainfall and sub-freezing temperatures. The Incas considered it a sacred food and called it “The Mother of all grains”. Quinoa was brought to the United States in the 1970’s but has only gained in popularity during the last 5 – 10 years. Many Oncologists are recommending quinoa to their cancer patients. Some doctors are telling their heart and diabetic patients to eat it. Some health magazines call quinoa the ‘Top Secret Super Food’. When cooked, quinoa has a slight crunch and a mild nutty flavor. It comes in many colors but the most popular are white, red and black. The white variety has the mildest flavor. Red and black are nuttier and crunchier. Recipes are on the website.
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer again in 2010 his Oncologist put him on a very strict diet. One of the foods he was told to eat was quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). We both eat quinoa with dinner each night. In my opinion, quinoa is the healthiest food on the planet yet most people have never heard of it. If you take the time to ‘google’ quinoa you will find thousands of sources of information to read plus thousands of recipes.
Quinoa is not just for people with a health condition though. It’s excellent for runners, bikers or those that work out as it puts more oxygen in your blood. For those on a diet it digests so slowly it keeps you feeling fuller longer. If you are a vegetarian or vegan it is the perfect replacement food for red meats because it is so high in iron and protein.
Quinoa is sodium-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, sugar-free and saturated fat-free. It is high in fiber, high in antioxidants, has no cholesterol and even helps lower cholesterol levels. If you are allergic to grains like wheat, corn, rye, barley or oats, quinoa is a very non-allergenic grain. Quinoa is the perfect replacement food for white rice, noodles or white potatoes.
Some quinoa has an outer shell called Saponin which has a very bitter taste. Some can even be toxic. I recommend buying organic quinoa. It has been washed and the shell has been removed.
CARBOHYDRATES: People have asked me if I thought the carb count in quinoa was a little high; approximately 39 carbs per cup-cooked. I look at it this way: the carbs in quinoa are complex carbs. Complex carbs are the fuel that keeps our bodies running. The problem isn’t that you’re eating carbs, but the foods those carbs are coming from. There are complex carbs (the healthy ones, like quinoa, fresh fruits and vegetables) and processed, empty carbs (the unhealthy ones, like wheat flour, wheat bread, sugar, chips, cookies, cakes etc). Both will fill you but you only get the necessary vitamins and minerals from the complex carbs. The processed, empty carbs have absolutely no nutritional value and these empty carbs turn into sugar. Cancer loves sugar. Throughout the day snack on quinoa, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables or make salads instead. Put quinoa on top of the salad. Make a sandwich with flax or millet bread. Eating any combination of these foods Is called “Food Synergy”. Food Synergy double’s or triple’s the amount of vitamins and minerals you put in your body plus quinoa, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits are highly alkaline and have an abundance of amino acids which your body needs to fight cancer. You will notice when you start eating complex carbs, you will start losing weight.
GLYCEMIC INDEX: Quinoa is low on the glycemic index. This means it’s a good source of energy and will keep your blood-sugar from rising or falling too quickly.
AMINO ACIDS: Are the building blocks that make up proteins that are found in our bodies. There are 20 essential amino acids. Your body can make 10 of them. The other 10 you get from eating protein-rich foods like quinoa. When your body doesn’t get enough amino acids from foods, it will start breaking down its own proteins to get the nourishment it needs. Amino acids also allow vitamins and minerals to be absorbed into the body properly. Some amino acids act as neurotransmitters which carry information from one nerve cell to another and allow the brain to send and receive messages.
FREE RADICALS: Are unstable molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage and diseases like cancer, dementia, asthma and heart disease to name a few. Free radicals attach themselves to healthy cells and destroy them. They are in the air we breathe, car emissions, cigerette smoke and pesticides to name a few.
ANTIOXIDANTS: Are phytochemicals, vitamins and nutrients that prevent free radicals from destroying healthy cells. They are compounds that neutralize free radicals and stop the chain reaction of forming new free radicals. Quinoa is high in antioxidants.
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