Grain of the Week: Quinoa by David Blanc
When people ask me to help them with food management, one of the first things I notice is the absence of whole grains in many of their diets. Contrary to popular belief, bread, pasta and potatoes do not count as whole grains. Wheat is the most widely known whole grain but most people have it in its processed form, bread. Those who think harder might mention rice, corn, or oats.
Those are all good foods but it’s been my experience that people are more likely to stay with a new way of eating if they have more choices. Variety is a fundamental need of the human psyche that crosses many sectors of life besides food. Quinoa, buckwheat, polenta, amaranth, teff, millet, and bulgur are just a few varieties of whole grain that many people don’t even know exist let alone have eaten. Let’s look at quinoa.
First off, so you don’t trip over the spelling, the word is pronounced Keen Wa. Quinoa is originally from the Andes, thrives in high, cold, climates, and was the staple food of the Incas. It is higher in protein than any other grain. It has more calcium than milk and is a good source of iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and vitamin E.
It’s been my experience that this grain doesn’t fill me nearly as well as bread or even rice, but there are other benefits. This is very good for clearing congestion and expanding one’s breathing. This increases body awareness and sensitivity. As an actor, I have at least 1 serving of Quinoa every day for three days before important auditions, shoots, or performances. The enhanced body awareness and sensitivity helps me to access my own emotions and feelings and express them into a camera or audience. Chinese Medicine’s Five Element Theory would say that this is because Quinoa is a grain related to the fire and metal elements and this stimulates the heart and lungs respectively, but that would have to be discussed in another article.
Quinoa can be prepared and served much in the same way as rice. It can be stir fried in a pilaf, mixed with other grains, fried into croquettes, served in salads, soaked until sprouted and served raw, steamed, boiled in a soup(which I recently did to recover from the flu bug that has been going around), and of course ground into flour to make bread, pastries, and cakes. My suggestion to clients would be to just do what you have to, to get Quinoa in your mouth and mouths of your loved ones.
David Blanc is a certified personal trainer under I.F.PA.A. and a certified Health Counselor under Integrative Nutrition and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.He can be reached at Go Natural.