Quinoa, King of the Crops!

Obtaining Necessary Nutrients

For many Americans, it is easy to consume the necessary nutrients for the body. This ease quickly increases in difficulty with allergies, diets, beliefs, or other food restriction. The six essential nutrients are carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. Out of all these nutrients, the protein nutrient may be considered the most difficult to attain in a vegan diet. Have no fear! It is far from impossible to find vegan food sources to provide protein. When the search for nutrient-rich foods being, there may be one umbrella term to look for. Can you guess? I”ll give you a hint; I am super excited to tell you all about one of my favorite foods. The answer, superfoods!

 

Superfoods

Superfoods are defined as nutrient-rich foods that provide an abundance of health benefits. Sounds pretty super to me! Now while there is a long, and I really do mean a long list of superfoods, quinoa becomes a standout food. So why is quinoa so great?

Courtesy of Brainscape.com
Image Credit: Brainscape.com

 

Nutrients of Quinoa

Quinoa is a protein-rich, presenting 6-8 grams of protein per serving. Not only is quinoa protein-rich, it is also a complete protein; meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for the body to function. These amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Crucial to the communication to the body’s cells, essential amino acids play a vital role in the functionality of the body. The nine amino acids classified as essential, hold their title as it is essential for one to eat foods containing these amino acids, for the body cannot produce them. When the essential amino acids are not present, the body resorts to breaks down muscle tissue to access the amino acids. While a day or two of neglecting to consume amino acids will not have a great affect on the body, lack of essential amino acid consumption will cause a deficiency.

Another advantage of protein is that it will help to increase your metabolism. In short, complete proteins are a great component of a healthy lifestyle. On top of quinoa’s protein content, quinoa is also known for its high levels of calcium, iron, and fiber. Calcium helps to prevent osteoporosis, and iron is vital in carrying red blood cells throughout the body, while fiber aids in digestion.

Better yet, quinoa is gluten-free! In fact, it is free of the top 8 allergens including milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. This makes quinoa a “safe” food for party guests with an array of allergies.

Image Credit: Food.com
Image Credit: Food.com

Your New Cooking Staple

By now, hopefully, I’ve convinced you that quinoa is a really great food.

Are you ready to get cooking?! Don’t worry about your cooking skills; anyone can be a pro at making quinoa. It is quick and simple. Seriously. One part quinoa to two parts water. Put in a pot, and put the pot on the stove. After it reaches a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Bam! You’ve just made quinoa. So how do you use all this quinoa you’ve cooked. Here’s the thing, quinoa is so incredibly versatile that your options are endless. Muffins, bread, salads, cookies, you name it! My personal favorite is a quinoa bowl loaded with sauteed vegetables and seasoned with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Not sure where to buy quinoa? Amazon Prime has plenty available!

Courtesy of AvocadoPesto
Image Credit: AvocadoPesto
Alaina Carstensen

Gastronomy Content Contributor

Alaina Carstensen is a high school senior at Milton High School. Alaina is a dog lover and a tea fanatic who absolutely loves being in the kitchen. She takes every possible opportunity to cook a fresh meal.