Today I’d like to tell you about a super star plant food that very few people have even heard about. Here are just a few of the healthy facts about this food I’d like to share with you.

1. It’s high in fiber, vitamins and minerals
2. It contains complete high-quality protein
3. It’s a healthy starch that gives you sustained energy by having a low glycemic index so you won’t have crazy sugar highs followed by dangerous blood sugar dips
4. It’s gluten free so almost anyone can eat it

Even more amazing, this plant food is friendly to the environment and has the potential of helping solve the world's hunger crisis. Because it has such great promise to feed people all over the world, support good health, and positively impact the environment, the United Nations has given it special recognition. 2013 has been declared the International Year of Quinoa.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is related to beets and spinach. In terms of growth, it is very undemanding and thrives in different locations, from seaside areas to high mountain slopes. Quinoa grows well in poor quality soil and demands very little fertilizer. It does not need much water to grow and has its own natural insecticide so that harmful pesticides are not required.

Quinoa originally came from the Andes region of Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia, and Peru. First planted there about 3000 to 4000 years ago, it was a sacred crop to the Incas, who called it "mother of all grains." At the start of each planting season, the Incan emperor sowed the first seeds with great pomp and ceremony using golden tools.

The Spanish conquistadors banned the cultivation of quinoa because of its native religious nature. Instead, the Incas were forced to plant wheat. Quinoa became little known outside native Andean communities.

It was not until NASA began evaluating foods for long-duration space flights that quinoa was re-discovered.

Outstanding Nutritional Value

As a great source of starch with high fiber content, the quinoa seed, the most nutritious part of the plant, is also high in protein. One seventh of its weight is pure protein. Even better, quinoa is one of the few plant foods with all the essential amino acids to be a whole protein.

About 6% of quinoa is fat. And this fat is good for your heart because it is very low in saturated fat.

In terms of minerals, quinoa is also high in magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. When researchers compare quinoa with major grains such as rice, corn, and wheat, it tops all the others in its content of these precious minerals. And that’s not all. It’s also a great source of bone-building calcium.

Quinoa on Your Plate

By now, you might think that quinoa must not be tasty because it is so good for you.

Not true.

Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture with a little hint of crunchiness after cooking. If served plain, it has a very mild nutty flavor. And any spice or flavor that you fancy to add compliments it.

You can use quinoa where rice or couscous is called for. Coincidentally, you cook quinoa the same way you cook rice by mixing two parts water to one part quinoa. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the curly germ of quinoa sticks out from the seed. Or, prepare it in a rice cooker the same way you would cook rice.

In the microwave, add the same two parts water to one part quinoa. Microwave for 4 minutes in a bowl. Stir outside the microwave oven. Then microwave for another 2 minutes. Stir. Then wait for at least one minute before serving.

If you prefer a richer taste, use chicken broth or vegetable stock instead of water when cooking. For a sweeter taste, mix plain quinoa with almonds (or other nuts), berries, or honey. This makes a terrific power breakfast dish.

You can even increase quinoa's awesome nutritional power by germinating the seeds before cooking them. Germination awakens the seed and turns on a host of magical processes to get it ready to become a plant. Through this step many more nutrients and proteins are made available! It only takes 2-4 hours of soaking quinoa in water for germination to take place. You are then ready to proceed with cooking.

Quinoa seeds are multi-colored: white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, brown and black. This adds a very appealing look to your plate.

Before preparing quinoa, rinse it in running water for a few minutes in either a fine strainer or cheesecloth. This helps remove a class of chemicals called saponins that is on the seeds. Too many saponins may cause loose stools.

The Future of Quinoa

As quinoa becomes more and more popular, you may not need to rinse it to remove the saponins. Scientists are currently devising ways to extract the saponins in quinoa to make beer, medicine, insecticides, soap, shampoo, detergent, toothpaste, and more.

Other creative people have found you can substitute wheat flour with quinoa flour for gluten-free baking of bread, biscuits, dumplings, sauces, pasta, and desserts. You can even top or mix quinoa flakes onto your drinks, soups, sweets, yogurt, and purées. Granola is delicious with quinoa as one of its components. One day you may even have puffed quinoa as a breakfast cereal.

Keep reading to discover the keys for defusing ticking health bombs that could be lurking in your body. Visit and discover the medical secrets necessary to know so you can live a better, longer, healthier life.

Author's Bio: 

Zen-Jay Chuang, MD, is a primary care physician and Chairman of the Whole Health Alerts advisory board. Visit to find out how Dr. Zen-Jay’s biodynamic, cutting edge approach to ancient and modern medicine can help you achieve the best health of your life.

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