Cooking Quinoa: An Ultimate Fertility Food
At Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), we are so lucky to have CT nutritionist Carolyn Gundell, MS, with over a decade of experience working with fertility and PCOS patients in particular. There are foods that are healthier than others, even among the healthy foods. Some, we consider superfoods. Here, Carolyn shares some wisdom about an important grain that can lead to better health and fertility.
Photo: SweetOnVeg, Flickr Creative Commons
Fertility Nutrition Secrets of Whole Grains – A Quinoa Primer
Are you bored with your selection of whole grains? Yet, are you interested in fertility nutrition?
Are you eating the same whole wheat toast, whole wheat pasta and brown rice day after day?
Have you tried quinoa, or other whole grains such as bulgur, buckwheat, millet, farro, barley, or steel cut oats?
Have you purchased quinoa and now you are staring at it in your cabinet with no idea how to cook it?
Maybe learning how to pronounce quinoa is more intimidating than the how to cook stage or, if you are like me and had a not so successful first time experience cooking quinoa, it may be hard to go back and try again.
Yes, even a Nutritionist, specializing in Fertility Nutrition, can be a bit stymied with the “how to cook” stage.
So I thought I would share a few tips with you.
If we are going to purchase and cook quinoa first learn how to pronounce this powerhouse of a whole grain. Quinoa is a two syllable word and is pronounced “Keen-wah”. If you want to hear an audio version, then google the Merriam Webster dictionary audio link, “How to pronounce quinoa.” You will surely impress everyone with your verbal skills.
Learn a little trivia about “Keen-wah” to add to your dinner conversation.
While relatively new to the United States, quinoa has been a staple food in Peru, Chile and Bolivia for over 5,000 years. The Inca Indians consider it a sacred food, refer to it as the "mother seed" or “mother of all grains” and believe that quinoa nutrients improve the quality of breast milk. Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse. It is a complete protein and high in magnesium, folate (folic acid), Vitamin E (antioxidant), iron and phosphorous. Quinoa is gluten free. This whole grain fits nicely into the fertility meal plan because it digests slowly with a low-glycemic index. This means that it does not spike blood sugar levels, satisfies hunger longer, and great for PCOS, insulin resistance, diabetes, and fertility.
Tips for Selecting/Preparing Quinoa:
The “If you can read, you can cook” stage. Quinoa is generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. If purchasing from a bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the quinoa are covered and that the store has a good product turnover to ensure its freshness. Store quinoa in an airtight container and will keep three to six months, if stored in the refrigerator. While the processing methods much of the soapy saponins that coats quinoa seeds, it is still a good idea to thoroughly wash the seeds to remove any remaining saponin residue. Run cold water over the quinoa that has been placed in a fine-meshed strainer, gently rubbing the seeds together with your hands. If the seeds still have a bitter taste, continue the rinsing process.
How to Cook and Prepare:
To prepare just add one part quinoa to two parts water and stir for about 12-15 minutes. Substitute rice and pasta with quinoa or even use it as hot breakfast cereal with milk, bananas, walnuts and dried cranberries.
Many recipes suggest mixing quinoa with corn or brown/wild rice, low fat cheese, Italian spices, marinara sauce, or vegetables. How about adding ground turkey and stuffing it into baked green peppers? Try combining cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. To add excitement to your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa. Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts. Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups. Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes. Quinoa is also great to use in tabouli, as a (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat with which this Middle Eastern dish is usually made. Quinoa freezes well too. Many recipes can be found on the internet and in cookbooks. A u-tube cooking video and narrative can also be found at www.healthcastle.com.
I welcome your quinoa experience comments.