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Quinoa, the Gluten Free Super Grain
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Quinoa, the Gluten Free Super Grain

Fat loss does NOT mean you have to go low carb! Yes, there are plenty of carbs that you should be running away from (and I mean run away screaming) but hey, that's also the case with many proteins and fats. The real trick to fat loss is knowing which foods are the good and which are the bad in every category.

There are plenty of delicious and extremely healthy grains that are a perfect fit to your Beyond Diet healthy eating plan, such as rice. Today I'm going to fill you in on a super grain that has been all the rave these days (like if grains were celebrities, this one would be Oprah). Introducing quinoa!

Seems like the only problem with quinoa is that nobody knows how to say it. Since its origins are in South America and my father is a native of Peru, I'm pretty positive that the pronunciation is "KEEN-wah."

Nutritionally, quinoa can be considered a super grain, although it's not really a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant that's distantly related to spinach. Quinoa is incredibly high in protein (very unlike other grains), and is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete. Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some folate (folic acid). A pretty awesome list of good qualities, don't you think?

As I mentioned above, my father is originally from Peru and grew up in a small Incan village where quinoa was a staple of their everyday diet. When I went on a business trip to Connecticut one time, I left my 7-month-old son with my parents for two nights. I left the baby prepared with all his needs, one of which was breast milk I'd stored in preparation for the trip. My dad then shared an interesting fact about quinoa that I didn't know. He said, "Did you know that in the villages of Peru, when a mother cannot breastfeed, they boil quinoa and use the water as milk for the baby?" According to my dad, those children grow healthy and strong. Wow! A true testament to the amount of nutrition that is available from this grain.

Now, for many of us, we're not exactly trying to replace mother's milk here, but we are trying to achieve our ideal weight and an increased level of health. So how does quinoa fit in there?

Since quinoa does not contain gluten or wheat, it is a perfect carbohydrate to include into your meal plans when you're following the "no wheat" plans (be sure to read Stop the Bread-Sanity! for details on why wheat and/or gluten may be preventing you from losing weight).

Quinoa is also very high in protein, and one of the great things about protein is that it keeps your blood sugar levels stable and makes you feel full longer (and nobody likes to be hungry, right?).

So where can you include quinoa into your weight loss and healthy meal plans? It's actually a perfect fit into your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since it is considered a carb, be sure to combine it with a protein for a complete, delicious and filling Beyond Diet meal.

Here is one of my favorite hot breakfast recipes that's a nice change of pace from oatmeal.

Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa (serves 4)

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup organic quinoa (rinse quinoa before cooking)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in blueberries and cinnamon (you can also add a little stevia to sweeten); transfer to four bowls and top with pecans or walnuts.