Small changes in lifestyle and eating habits can really add up over time. When those changes involve adding superfoods to your diet, you’re on the right track. When you substitute them for a less healthy or more fattening food, you’re getting double duty from a small choice for change.
It’s important to identify ways to optimize your diet that work with your lifestyle and eating habits. Today, we’re going to discuss one of the best and easiest small changes you can make to improve your nutrition and maintain a healthy weight.
Substitute Quinoa for Rice or Pasta
Quinoa is a superfood – there’s no doubt about it. It’s the most nutritious grain you can eat, with twice the protein of any other grain. Well, technically it’s not a grain, since the plant is not from the grass family, but this seed has a mild, slightly nutty flavor that substitues well for rice or pasta, and is much healthier.
The United Nations Calls Quinoa “Extraordinary”
The United Nations has named quinoa a super crop, designating 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa.” The UN calls quinoa “extraordinary”.
Nutritionally rich quinoa delivers all nine essential amino acids as well as fiber, antioxidants, trace elements and vitamins. It’s particularly rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin E.
If that’s not enough to impress you, quinoa is also gluten-free, so it’s excellent for those who are using gluten-free diets for weight loss. Once cooked, quinoa can replace other grains in salads, sides and main dishes, as well as soups or baked goods. You can serve quinoa hot, cold or at room temperature.
Quinoa is a Top Choice for Dieters
Dieters should know that quinoa contains quercetin, and has been proven to assist with appetite control. Quercetin has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat type 2 diabetes, which is leading researchers today to study its effects in preventing metabolic syndrome and obesity. A study published in the journal “Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care” stated in 2008 that “quercetin is a promising compound for disease prevention and therapy, especially for preventing obesity-related diseases.” Quercetin is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, and the American Cancer Society states that quercetin “may help protect against certain types of cancer.”
Quinoa is also a “slow-carbs“. Because it takes a longer period of time to digest, it tends to make you feel full longer, which helps reduce between-meal snacking.
Quinoa has been proven to have a higher Satiating Efficiency Index than wheat or rice – you’ll feel more satisfied after a meal containing Quinoa.
Quinoa and Diabetes
It also has a low glycemic index, and ingredients that reduce high blood sugar, making this “ancient grain” an excellent choice for a diabetic diet.
Quinoa Nutrition Facts
A cup (185g) of cooked quinoa has 222 calories, 8 grams of protein, 39 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber.
Quinoa is available in white, red or black varieties. They’re similar in flavor, but red is often preferred in salads as it’s a bit denser. Black is a bit sweeter and more flavorful.
Important: Rinse Quinoa Before Cooking
It’s important to rinse quinoa well before use, as a small number of people may show an allergic reaction to the naturally-occuring saponin coating on the seeds. Saponin is soapy and bitter, and protects the seeds against insects and birds. Even organic quinoa needs to be washed before cooking.
Put your quinoa in a sieve with a fine mesh and insert the whole thing into a bowl of water to soak for a couple of minutes. Stir with your fingers a few times. Then run the sieve of quinoa under running water until the water runs clear. This will remove the coating, and you’ll be ready to cook your quinoa.
Quinoa Cooking Instructions
Put the quinoa in a pot with twice its volume in boiling water. Reduce heat and cover, and simmer approximately 12 minutes. A dash of salt is optional.
Keep quinoa as a staple in your diet – one of the best choices for healthy foods to lose weight.