By: Bronwyn Ison

What is all the hype about quinoa? What is it? Why is it good for me? After researching quinoa I learned it is either a grain or it is associated with the spinach family. Without antagonizing the experts, does it matter? We know it could possibly be a healthy grain or interrelated to a leafy green. We do know that most vegetarians love quinoa. Are you curious about the pronunciation? Try saying, ”KEEN-wah”. Quinoa is abundant along with myriad benefits. Fortunately, it is also versatile and can be prepared multiple ways.

Quinoa has Spanish roots and was once called Quechua. It originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru. The Inca’s believed it was the “mother of all grains and/or gold to them”. We have been warned of consuming to many carbohydrates. Quinoa is an excellent replacement for rice or pastas. Quinoa is a nutritious carbohydrate and assists with you remaining lean and boosts your stamina. The taste and texture is similar to brown rice crossed over with oatmeal. You will recognize that it is fluffy, crunchy, creamy, and a bit nutty.

Why Quinoa? It tastes good and can be helpful with your diet. It can be a complete source of protein when paired with another food. Quinoa is the only plant-based protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids. The amino acids include: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine (cysteine), Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Phenylalanine (tyrosine). When all of these amino acids are present in the body, every cell in the body is being fed protein. These amino acids in the super food quinoa is necessary to feed our muscles, stimulate hair and nail growth, is excellent for our organs and the list perpetuates.

Quinoa is the perfect replacement to any carbohydrate. When you consider rice or pasta with your meal, reconsider and add quinoa instead. Quinoa can be prepared as a dessert as well. Rather than rice pudding, try the quinoa pudding recipe included.

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One can use quinoa as you would rice, you can also make quinoa pudding. To make four servings of banana quinoa pudding, boil 1 1/2 cups of water and add 3/4 of quinoa. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Leave the quinoa in the pot but remove from the heat. Place 2 cups milk, 2 peeled ripe bananas, 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar into a blender and mix until smooth. Stir this mixture into the saucepan with the quinoa and return to a medium heat. Cook until the mixture is creamy and warm, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the warm mixture and stir without returning to the heat. Serve warm for a delicious dessert on a chilly night.

Time to head to the market and fill your basket with quinoa. The recipes are plentiful and you will be energized by all the healthful benefits. Stay healthy!