Back To Basics – Quinoa

By: Nick Thomas

This strange food everyone has heard of but no one can pronounce has a huge nutritional value. It can be extremely beneficial, and it might even be worthy enough to be deemed a “superfood.”

Quinoa is botanically considered a seed rather than a grain. It is a broadleaf plant that produces seeds rather than fruit. Unlike actual grains, such as wheat and barley which grow in grasses, quinoa plants grow edible seeds. Because of this process, it is officially labeled as a “pseudocereal,” a seed used in nutrition the same way a cereal grain such as barley would be.

Quinoa holds some pretty awesome anti-inflammatory and disease fighting properties. It is a rich source of complete protein, especially for a grain. The secret is lysine which is a rare amino acid not found in many other gains.

This “super grain” reduces chances of developing type 2 diabetes, and can also help keep glucose levels balanced for those already affected by diabetes. The reason this works is because quinoa is rich in complex carbohydrates, or healthy carbohydrates, that slowly digest and keep the body full longer while maintaining blood sugar and appetite level.

Magnesium, which is a vital mineral required for optimal metabolism, cardiovascular, and blood vessel function, is found in quinoa as well.

For those who suffer from migraines, quinoa may be a great choice for weekly meals because it is high in riboflavin, or vitamin B2. This promotes blood vessel expansion in the brain and reduces the chances of migraines.

If celiac disease or a gluten intolerance is an issue, quinoa should become a mealtime staple item. It is technically a seed; however, because it is unrelated to wheat, it makes the perfect substitute for pasta, wheat flour, oatmeal, and so much more. Quinoa is so diverse, it can be ground, boiled, baked, steamed, and even fried.

There are three verities of quinoa — white, red, and black. White quinoa is the most widely sold and takes the least amount of time to cook. Because it does not easily lose it shape during cooking, red quinoa is used mostly in salads or other recipes where a grain like texture is desired. Black quinoa actually has a bit of a different taste than the other two types. It has more of an earthy, sweet flavor and takes the longest to cook.

Quinoa is a very practical superfood side dish that can easily be added to a weekly menu for the whole family. It can be found in the grain aisle at almost any grocery store these days. Simply follow the directions on the bag; just add a generous sprinkle of sea salt to the water for extra flavor. Bone broth can even be used instead of water when boiling for added flavor depth. Use quinoa instead of rice or other grains as a side dish to any meal or even mix it in with your salad for an added texture, taste, and nutritional punch.

For more information regarding a personalized general or sports nutrition plan contact me at Prime Performance 423-805-0870.
By: Nick Thomas
owner of Prime Performance Training, and Certified Sports Nutritionist