“While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, Quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom.” Philip White — 1955 Edible Seed Products of the Andes Mountains.
Firstly, lets talk quinoa. Technically quinoa is not a cereal grain but a seed or “pseudo-cereal” — a food that is cooked and eaten like a grain and has a similar nutrient profile. Botanically, it is more related to beetroot, chard and spinach, and in fact the leaves can be eaten as well. For these reasons we can consider it a nutrient and fibre rich whole”grain” with low glycaemic profile. It has the highest potassium content of any wholegrain and potassium lowers blood pressure.
Quinoa is one of the only plant foods that’s a complete protein — it contains a good balance of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for our dietary needs. ‘Essential’ amino acids means that they have to be eaten and cannot be manufactured by the body — these are the essential building blocks of the proteins that form and repair our bodies. Quinoa also has an usually high ratio of protein to carbohydrate, since the germ makes up about 60% of the seed, compared to wheat where the germ comprises less than 3% the grain. It shouldn’t surprise you, therefore, that NASA has proposed quinoa as an ideal food for long-duration space flights!
Quinoa is a perfect “trade-up” ingredient when switching your diet to include more wholegrain carbohydrates. Instead of white rice you can use quinoa in the same way —as a bulking base for other flavours. Its quick, easy and can be ready in 15 minutes. This is just one example but a quinoa and veg stir-fry is a perfect weekday meal and great combined with a piece of grilled meat. Left over quinoa stir-fry is equally good the next day as a cold lunch at work.