Quinoa- The New Beauty Grain

Every year there  seems to a new miracle food– acai berries, pomegranate juice and coffeeberry  all promised to be the key to health and beauty, but  just turned out to be expensive  fads.  When I started to hear about quinoa, I  thought it was just another hard core health  food.  But quinoa is truely a great new addition to  a beauty diet. 

Quinoa is a pseudo cereal that looks  like a grain but is actually closely related  to beets  and spinach.  It has the mild taste and texture of couscous or rice but with more protein and HALF the carbs.  Gluten-free quinoa is so nutritious that it is a candidate crop for NASA’a  Controlled Ecological  Life Support System  for long term human space flights.

How healthy is quinoa?  One  cup of cooked quiona  has 155 calories, 30 carbs and 6 grams of protein. By contrast brown rice has 248 calories, 48 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein.   But wait there’s more  good news.  The glycemic index  ( GI) of quinoa  is 18.  By comparison,  the GI of brown rice  is 50  while a baked potato  is 92.  Since  most experts recommend  including  foods with a  GI under 50,  quinoa  is a nutritional  superstar.  Keep in mind  that  studies have linked high carb diets to  earlier skin aging and wrinkles so low carb quinoa   has certainly earned  its  health and   beauty  creds.

I have to confess that  I don’t feel satisified without a serving of some sort of carbs.  I  can eat a sink full of salad, but without some starch, I get  cranky hungry within an hour.  A small dish of quinoa  fills that need at  half the carbs and calories.

A Word of Caution

Quinoa  is naturally coated  with saponin, a bitter soapy substance that keeps  birds and insects away.  To remove it,  the  grain needs  to be soaked in water for several hours  or rinsed in running water for several minutes.  Most boxed/packaged quinoa  has been pre-rinsed and only needs a quick  run under the faucet.   I buy my quinoa in a store packaged plastic container so I play it safe  and rinse it in the sink for 3 minutes. 

You can get  fancy and use quinoa in salads, veggie burgers, soups, casseroles and stir fry dishes.   I  tend to keep it  simple and  just love to use it as a regular side dish in place of rice, couscous  or pasta.  I even use it instead of rice when I order chinese take-out. 

My Go-To Quinoa Recipe ( adapted from Healthy Kitchen– America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients:  one  medium onion, chopped, one teaspoon olive oil, one cup quinoa, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Directions:  Heat the olive  oil  in a pan and saute the onion until softened.  Stir in quinoa and cook for about 3  minutes until it is  lightly toasted.  Add chicken stock, cover and cook for 15 minutes.   Remove cover, fluff grains with a fork and serve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *