Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Industry Trend: Quinoa

Industry Trend: Quinoa

Recently, quinoa has been popping up everywhere in recipes, especially in those high in nutritional value and low in fat and calories. We have seen this grain replacing traditional cous cous, white rice, brown rice and a variety of other starches. As much of the population looks for ways to cut carbs and calories, healthier replacements have started to emerge in the food industry.

What It Is: Quinoa, pronounced ki-nwa, is a pseudo cereal. Traditional cereals are grasses while quinoa is a non-grass, grain-like crop harvested mainly for its seeds. This plant originated in the Andean region of South America and has similarities to beet plants and spinach. To pre-Colombian Andean civilizations, quinoa was second in nutritional value just under the potato because of its high protein content (12%-18%) and essential amino acids including omega 3 fatty acids. Along with this, the seed is organic, high in fiber, iron, magnesium and phosphorus as well as gluten-free.
Who Might be Interested: People who might be interested are those looking to improve their health in general. As stated before, this seed is high in a wide variety of nutritional necessities and for those dieting, quinoa has a low fat content and a high level of slow-releasing carbohydrates, which create a full feeling in the stomach. Those suffering from migraines, diabetes or atherosclerosis should try quinoa. The magnesium found in this seed helps to relax blood vessels and reduce constriction and dilation that tend to cause migraines. This relaxation of the blood vessels can also help those suffering from certain heart conditions like cardiac arrhythmia and ischemic heart disease.
How to prepare: Before cooking, the seed must be rinsed under water in order to remove the saponin, a bitter resin-like coating. This is usually done before packaging; however, it’s better to rinse the seeds again before cooking. The great thing about quinoa is that it cooks very quickly! Place seeds in a pot of boiling water and they will be ready usually within 15 minutes! This is the simplest way to prepare the seed however the options are endless and include popping it, roasting it and sprouting it to eat raw.

Availability: Quinoa is found in most grocery stores these days; however, it is sold in bulk at Whole Foods and Wild Oats. Trader Joes also sells the seeds as well as a variety of online sources such as Amazon.

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