Considered the “Mother of all grains” by the Incan people, quinoa is a South American grain that grows in the Andes mountains. The Incan warriors would survive for many months on the battlefield with just a large pouch of quinoa attached to their horses. War generals noticed that their warriors had superior stamina on the quinoa diet compared to their corn eating enemies. Many ceromonies featured quinoa as the center of attention, often being eaten or given as gifts. The Incas thrived on this staple food until the Spanish forbade any consumption of it due to its conflict with Christian faith.
Quinoa is actually classified as a seed. These small, earthy little beeds pack a huge nutritional punch. It is one of the few non-meats that is a complete protein. This means it contains the 8 essential amino acids that we must obtain from out daily food intake. It is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamin E. Quinoa is also wheat and gluten free. Many people live with marginal to full-blown gluten intolerence and do not know it. Quinoa will not exacerbate a gluten or wheat intolerance health issue
Quinoa posseses a number of health benefits and in particular, its reduction of migraine headaches. Magnesium from the quinoa dilates the small blood vessels in the skull which then relieves pressure build up and headaches. Eating quinoa can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol and heart attack risk.
Quinoa is fairly easy to prepare and tastes pretty good too. It soaks up any sauces you may want to add to give it more flavor. My mom mixes edamame beans and chopped walnuts together with it for a nice dish. You can also serve it cold mixed with beans, lentils, and other vegetables for a salad. Make sure to rinse it really well before cooking. This seed should be a go-to side dish for the Challenge and beyond!
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