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I am Dr. Marie-Sabine Thomas, a trained Naturopathic Physician and a fellow at Bastyr University Research Institute.

The purpose of this blog is to educate people so that they can make informed decisions about their health. I answer burning questions about natural medicine and discuss research findings that can better support wellness. I invite you to join the discussion!

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Super-nutritious and affordable alternative to rice!
Posted on September 7th, 2011 by Dr. Sabine Thomas

September is whole grain month. This is the perfect time to venture out and try a new grain: Quinoa.

What is Quinoa?

If you have never heard of Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), you are in for a treat. It is a tiny but whole grain that originates from South America. This nutrient-rich and complete protein grain is drought resistant, and can grow well in poor soils without irrigation or fertilizer. It’s been designated a “super crop” by the United Nations, for its potential to feed the hungry poor of the world. This  recently rediscovered ancient grain was once called “the gold of the Incas,” who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors.  I feel I should let you in on a little secret  that even though we call quinoa a grain it is actually the seed of a plant related to beets, chard and spinach. So the leaves of the quinoa plants are also edible.

How does one cook it?

Quinoa prepares just like rice. Pour 1 cup of quinoa into 2 cups of boiling water, let it simmer and when most of the water has evaporated, drizzle  a tablespoon of olive oil over the quinoa, turn the heat down on medium and cover it for approximately 15-20 minutes. The quinoa is cooked when a thin gold ringlet slides out of the grain and the grain almost looks translucent.  You can serve it warm with savory bean sauce,  meat or vegetables.  Served cold, mixed with cubes of organic red, yellow, orange peppers, chunks of cucumber and a marinade of balsamic vinaigrette, it makes for a colorful, tasty and crunchy quinoa salad.

Health perks!

Ok so now for the perks: it is a grain that has a high content in protein, making it a vegetarian’s or vegan’s best friend. It is especially high in lysine, a well sought after amino acid for anyone who cannot access it through animal protein.  Lysine is essential for tissue growth and repair.  Quinoa powder has also been utilized  for skin and hair products.  Folks who need a creative gluten-free snack will be happy to experiment with for a great midday snack: cooked and cooled quinoa, prepared with some figs and nuts, cooled and shaped into a bar. There are over 125 varieties of quinoa grains and they come in black, red, magenta or yellow.  I just found a quinoa cake recipe and can’t wait to try it! Enjoy discovering this amazing seed/grain.

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