Quinoa – one of my staple foods

Even though quinoa is technically not a grain, it has been called “chisaya mama,” or “the mother of all grains.” It is considered sacred perhaps because it thrives during a long hot summer and, during drought conditions when other plants weaken, the quinoa harvest doubles. (1) As nature always answers the call, this high-protein food is harvested just before the cold winter months when more protein and fats are needed. (1)

While still considered a low-fat protein source, quinoa is much higher in fat than wheat and other grasses. It has a significant amount of oleic acid, which is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil and has some (ALA) alpha-linolenic acid, which is a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid. Surprisingly, these good fats stay stable or do not become oxidized from cooking, which happens with most other fats. (5)

Researchers believe that this is due to the high levels of antioxidants found in quinoa. It is high in the alpha, beta and gamma forms of vitamin E, polyphenols, and flavonoids like quercetin that lengthen its shelf life while protecting the seed from rancidity when heated. (5)

In addition to being a high-protein grain alternative, perhaps quinoa’s most current claim to fame is its effect on blood sugar. (6) As a low-glycemic food, it exerts little blood sugar stress on the body, but its high fiber content helps to slow the absorption of other sugars from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. (7) In one study, it outperformed 10 other Peruvian grains for its effects on weight and blood sugar. (6)

Interestingly, even though quinoa maintained healthy low blood sugar levels, it provided more satisfaction, satiety and fullness after the meal compared to wheat or rice, according to the Satiating Efficiency Index (SEI). (8) It also has a very high magnesium content that supports healthy blood sugar (9) and healthy blood pressure levels. (9)

As a natural antioxidant, anti-inflammation food that is just loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and a vegetarian “complete protein,” quinoa must be considered as a staple in the diet this fall and winter, as the need for healthy high-protein foods goes up.

Quinoa Cooking Instructions

  1. Do your best to wash away the skin of the quinoa seed as it is a bit bitter. Use a fine strainer.
  2. Add 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa and bring to a boil.
  3. Then cover it, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Then, strain the cooked quinoa again through the fine strainer (quinoa holds a lot of water).
  5. Return the strained quinoa to a warm pot and sit without heat for 15 more minutes. This ensures that you get fluffy and light quinoa, rather than wet, clumpy quinoa.
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Maca Chocolate Pie

Mouth Watering Maca Cacao Pie a la TTAC:

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Author: Charlene Bollinger

Yield: 8 servings

Mouth Watering Maca Cacao Pie

Ingredients

Filling Ingredients:
    • ½ cup raw macadamia nuts (soak 1 hour) OR cashews (soak 2 hours) OR hazelnuts (soak 4 hours), soaked in water
    • ½ cup raw cacao powder OR for a darker chocolate add an additional ¼ cup
    • ½ cup cold pressed coconut oil, liquefied at low temperature on stove top
    • 3 tablespoons or more according to taste of raw honey OR coconut nectar* OR Lakanto**
    • ¼ cup spring or filtered water (only if needed to make a smooth filling)
    • Coconut flakes, raw cacao nibs, and/or nuts for garnish (optional)
Spices:
    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
    • 1 tablespoon maca powder***
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
    • Quality salt to taste, such as pink or sea salt
Crust Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour OR ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon cold pressed coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey OR coconut nectar*
  • Quality salt to taste, such as pink or sea salt

Instructions

  1. Rub a small amount of coconut oil on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch glass pie plate.
  2. Add all the crust ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until a loose cookie dough forms or ingredients begin to stick together.
  3. Place dough mixture in the pie plate and press evenly from the center to the sides and about a half to one inch up the sides. Place in the freezer while preparing the filling.
  4. Place filling ingredients and spices in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, adding water slowly if needed. The filling should be the consistency of thick pudding.
  5. Take crust out of freezer and pour filling into the crust.
  6. Spread filling mixture evenly on the crust.
  7. Place pie back in freezer for two to three hours or until firm. Once filling is firm, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the freezer until ready to serve.
  8. Remove from the freezer and garnish with cacao nibs, coconut, or crushed nuts according to taste. You may need to allow pie to sit for 10 minutes or so before cutting.
  9. Cut into slices and serve. Enjoy

Notes

*Coconut nectar can be found in some specialty grocery stores and is readily available online. Coconut nectar is exceptionally high in enzymes, nutrient rich, and is low glycemic, so it’s excellent for a sugar substitute.

**Lakanto (Wholesome Sweeteners Brand) is a one to one sugar substitute available at Whole Foods. This is a superior sweetener for ketogenic diets and low glycemic needs.

***Maca (powder) can be obtained at most health food stores.