Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Magical Grain

Quinoa is my favorite grain, pasta, tuber, and starch; it is non of these, but can easily pass for all four of them. It is a grain-like crop, or a pseudo-grain, known for its edible seeds. The one exception is that it is packed full of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids which is rare in a plant food. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are twenty. We only need nine because the other eleven are synthesized by our own amazing bodies. Most importantly, Quinoa is delicious!

Ignoring its great taste and versatility, Quinoa’s nutrient profile alone is enough to write home about. Perhaps that’s why it has been Peru’s staple food which they have relied upon for all nutrients. In addition to its amino acid content, it has 37% of the daily RDA for iron, plenty of vitamin C, fiber, and 12 to 18% protein. Furthermore, it is gluten free which is beneficial given the rapidly growing population of Celiac’s Disease, gluten intolerant, and those with inflammatory bowel disease (Chrohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis) in industrialized countries.

Its history is fascinating enough to write a book about, so I will only choose one of my favorite tales. The Incas revered the crop as sacred. They went so far as to sow the first quinoa seed of the season using golden instruments. After the South American conquest, Spanish colonist regarded quinoa as “Indian food” suppressing its consumption and agriculture. The primary reason for the delectable fruit’s scorn was it’s revered status in a non-Christian society and the ceremonies surrounding the crop. It became forbidden and the Incas were forced to grow corn, instead.

A favorite stew recipe invented by Sheldon:

Olive oil

Tony Cajun



Cilantro, chopped (as desired)

Green onion, chopped (as desired)

1 large (or 2 small) Russet potatoes, cubed

1 half red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 12 oz soaked)

1 can diced tomatoes or 1.5 cups fresh

1 cup corn, frozen or fresh

1 cup (unprepared) quinoa, rinsed

2 1/2 cups veggie broth

2 cups water

Saute red onion and garlic (1 min after onion) in olive oil and seasoning. Then add tomatoes and stew for about 3 minutes.

Add Potatoes, broth/water, and bring to a boil

Once potatoes are almost tender, add the quinoa

Once potatoes and quinoa are cooked, add kidney beans and corn, then return to boil until they are heated throughout.

When soup is finished and everything is tender, turn off heat, then stir in green onion and cilantro

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