The campaign to eat more whole grains has begun. Have you noticed the increase in companies promoting whole grains on commercials? Cheerios has started quite the whole grain campaign. It is no wonder that we are all confused about what counts as a healthy grain and what is a refined grain. One way to keep it simple is that food, grains come from the earth. The healthiest kind of grain is one that is still in tact and has not been stripped of its essential nutrients. One that has not been processed in a factory and put into a box. I am not knocking your kids having a bowl of cheerios in the morning but there are so many great grains out there that have not received the spotlight they deserve.
We are all familiar with the rock star grain, brown rice, but it takes a long time to cook and can get pushed aside when we are rushed to make dinner. So let’s put the spotlight on, quinoa. It is a grain that deserves some kudos because it is LOADED with essential nutrients and only take 15 minutes to cook so it easy to have on hand and prepare in a pinch.
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient “grain” once considered “the gold of the Incas.”
Quinoa has the highest nutritional profile and cooks the fastest of all grains. It contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein. It is high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin E. It is easy to digest and strengthens the kidneys, heart and lungs. Kids who are picky eaters are often lacking in zinc so this is simple way to get more zinc in their diet.
Quinoa needs to be rinsed before use because it has a toxic (but naturally occuring) bitter coating, called saponin. Place it in a grain strainer and rinse thoroughly with water. You may see a soapy solution which is normal.
Organic quinoa can now be found in Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s and Earthfare in the pasta and grain isle. Because of it’s neutral yet nutty flavor, it tastes great with the addition of chopped vegetables, fruits, dried fruits, cheeses and nuts. My kids love it simply with some melted cheese on top. Earthfare usually has one to two prepared quinoa salads on the salad bar and the prepared food case. Great to grab for lunch or as a side for dinner if you don’t have time to cook.
Here are some recipes we have enjoyed a lot this summer.
The texture is similar to couscous so if your family is already a fan just pass the quinoa off as couscous. No one will know they just ate mouthful of absolute healthiness!
*Some facts taken from www.whfoods.com