Quinoa. It is just a beautiful name for such an incredible food. Pronounced keenwa, the Incas called it chisiya mama, or the mother of grains, though we know now it is technically a seed. There are lengends of Incan armies marching for days eating nothing but “war balls”, quinoa packed with fat.
My favorite aspect of quinoa is the fact that it is actually a complete protein. If you know me, you know that I love my protein, and quinoa is that rarest of all creatures, a grain or seed that has all essential amino acids. The main reason it is considered complete is because it is high in lysine, an amino acid traditionally limited in the plant world.
Another benefit is that it cooks in about the same time as pasta, so it is much faster to prepare than rice, and providing better nutrition than either. It is high in fiber, roughly 5g per serving, and very low on the glycemic index causing it to have a minimal impact on blood sugar. Compared to other grains like wheat and corn it is higher in many minerals including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and particularly iron, of which it contains a respectable 8mg.
More great benefits are that it is gluten free, so it can be enjoyed by anyone that has Celiac’s disease, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, whatever you want to call it. It is also a leafy seed, not a grassy grain, so it does not contain any of the allergens common to wheat, rye, barley, oats or corn.
In summary quinoa is an amazing little food that has very high nutrition properties, is a complete protein, is hypo-allergenic, has a low glycemic index and is high in fiber. What more do you want? Well, I just might post an absolutely delicious quinoa recipe later this week, so stay tuned!
If you want more ideas for eating quinoa check out two great cookbooks: Gourmet Nutrition by Dr. John Berardi, and The Healthiest Meals on Earth by Dr. Jonny Bowden, two absolutely fantastic resources that anyone serious about their health and fitness should own!
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