Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) may be the most widely recognizable of the so-called "ancient grains." It has been a staple in the diet of people in the Andes for thousands of years; the Incas called it “the mother of all grains.” Now touted as a modern-day “superfood,” quinoa has gained a worldwide reputation as a healthier substitute for white rice and pasta and a rare plant source of complete protein for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa has entered our lives more and more in recent years, and it seems that today there is no home that has not heard about this special food and its many health benefits. In addition, thanks to its delicate and unique taste, quinoa can be added to a variety of dishes, salads and even various healthy energy drinks.
While we’re used to seeing it as a part of various dishes, not many know that it is possible to make healthy, nutritious milk from quinoa that will provide your body with a variety of nutrients, and will help you in ways that regular or plant-based milk can’t. In order to learn more about quinoa, its advantages and how to turn it into delicious and nutritious milk, continue reading the article below.
How to Cook Quinoa
You should rinse quinoa before cooking it to remove the outer coating, called saponin, which can leave a bitter and soapy taste. Some brands do this before packaging their quinoa, but it’s a good idea to do it again at home just to make sure you’ve washed it all away. You’ll need a fine mesh sieve so you don’t lose the tiny seeds down the drain.
To prepare quinoa, cover it with seasoned water, stock, or vegetable broth, bring it to a boil, then put a tight-fitting lid on the pot, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer it until it softens, about 15 minutes; look for the tiny spirals of the germ to appear, a sign that it’s done. Drain it with a fine mesh sieve, return it to the warm pot to rest for about 10 minutes, and then fluff it with a fork to separate the grains. Or use your rice cooker, with a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water.
Use quinoa in just about any recipe calling for rice or another whole grain, such as rice salads, couscous recipes, or pilafs. If you keep some cooked quinoa on hand in either the fridge or freezer, you are always ready to toss it into any dish for added texture, body, and nutrition.
Similar to other dry grains, quinoa should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to prevent moisture and insects from getting into it. Once it is cooked, it will stay fresh in the refrigerator for five to seven days. You can also batch cook it and store it in the freezer in serving-size portions.
Store quinoa flour in the freezer to slow oxidation and extend its shelf life. Quinoa flakes last in the refrigerator for up to a year.
The Benefits of Quinoa:
Quinoa is considered a superfood thanks to the essential nutrients it contains which nourish the body and contribute to its overall health. The unique grain has a number of characteristics that make it a real health bomb, and the milk produced from it will provide your body with a concentrated dose in one gulp!
1. Gluten free
After years of gastrointestinal problems, many are discovering that they are sensitive to gluten, which requires them to maintain a unique diet without the component that harms them. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, as opposed to other foods that do not contain it because of the chemical processes they undergo to make them so. This means that people who are sensitive to gluten can enjoy quinoa without fear of introducing harmful ingredient supplements, in addition to reaping the many other benefits of the unique grain.
2. Improves metabolism at the cellular level
We are used to thinking about metabolic rate at the general level, that is, in the context of processing the food we eat, producing energy from it and its effect on the body. But along with these processes, there are also internal processes at the cellular level in the digestive system, which allow it to work properly in terms of maintaining normal levels of sugar and fats in the blood. Quinoa helps to improve digestive activity at the cellular and physical levels, which contributes to overall health, prevents sedimentation of fats in the blood vessels, and helps maintain normal energy levels.
3. Strengthens muscles
Protein is an essential commodity for the body in all its forms, especially for people who exercise regularly. Besides building the muscle itself, proteins are also needed for other processes such as absorption of various minerals and other components essential for the health of the body, especially iron. In a study published in 2001, researchers found that insufficient absorption of iron leads to a poor physical condition even after consuming the required amount, so it is recommended to incorporate iron-rich foods such as quinoa in your daily diet if you wish to develop and maintain muscle mass over time.
4. Helps lower blood pressure
Quinoa is rich in dietary fibers that contribute to digestion and removal of wastes from the body, as well as lowering blood pressure. Many people who have high blood pressure do not consume enough fiber in their diet, which perpetuates the situation. Fortunately though, quinoa can help. The natural and healthy fibers of quinoa grains help lower blood pressure and thus reduce the risk of various illnesses caused by this condition, especially if it is chronic.
5. A good source of B vitamins
There are several types of vitamin B, eight to be specific, each with its own main role, such as preventing blood shortages, maintaining proper neural activity, strengthening memory, and more. Quinoa is an excellent source of vitamins from this group, and eating it or drinking milk made of it will help you maintain good overall health and improve your body’s functioning in ways you won’t even be aware of.
6. Prevents osteoporosis (bone depletion)
As time goes by, the bones in our body lose their density due to osteoporosis and other factors that sometimes lead to the development of osteoporosis. In this condition, the bones become very delicate and fragile, which can turn any fall or bump into a risk of fracture in the body. In order to prevent this condition, it is important to consume foods that are rich not only in calcium but also in magnesium, such as quinoa. This essential mineral affects the metabolism of calcium and is therefore essential for its absorption, and happily, one cup of quinoa contains about a third of its recommended daily intake. In order to optimize the absorption of magnesium in your body, it is recommended to soak the quinoa in water before cooking and then eating it normally.
7. Rich in zinc
Zinc is a mineral that is needed in the body in quite small amounts, but without it, life cannot exist. Lack of zinc interferes with insulin function, lowers sperm count in men and increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as colds and the flu. One cup of quinoa contains 13% of the recommended daily amount of zinc, therefore, it is considered one of the best sources of this essential mineral. In a study published in 2013, researchers found that zinc plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the skin and liver, so it is recommended to consume enough of it on a daily basis to reduce the chance of diseases that attack these and other areas.
A recipe for quinoa milk:
Now that you know a little more about quinoa and its many virtues, you can go to the pantry, take out a package of quinoa and prepare a nutritious milk with this simple recipe:
1 cup quinoa
10 cups of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
1. Place the quinoa in a large plastic container, pour 6 cups of water over it, cover it with a lid and put it in the refrigerator overnight for about 8 hours (this step should not be skipped because quinoa has a phytic acid that inhibits mineral absorption, and the soaking neutralizes its activity).
2. Drain the quinoa from the liquid, place it in a pot with 2 cups of water and simmer over medium heat until it softens.
3. Place the cooked quinoa in a food processor along with the remaining 2 cups of water and blend until you get a smooth drink.
4. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon to the resulting drink, mix and set aside for a few minutes.
5. Strain the quinoa milk with a cheesecloth or a fine sieve and, if necessary, add more water. Keep the milk in a storage container in the refrigerator and drink hot/cold. You can sweeten the quinoa with honey and drink it whenever you like.
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The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Always make sure to seek a doctor or a professional’s advice before proceeding with the home treatment plan.