First, we must start with a lesson in phonics. How in the world do you even pronounce this little grain of wonder? kwuh-NO-uh….nope, KWIN-wah….nope. KEEN-wah….ahhh yeah, that’s right, it’s business time! And by business time, you know what I mean. (Flight of the Conchords anyone?) Sorry, I digress.
If you were ever wished you grew big and tall like all the other “cool” kids, think again, I say. Great things come in small packages! This tiny little grain packs a serious punch. For a grain, quinoa is packed full of complete protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), fiber, iron, zinc and phosphorus. Let’s break it down a little further into “easier to swallow” language. Your muscles will be happy with the protein provided by quinoa to rebuild and repair after you tear them them down on your 15 mile long run with 5 miles of race pace in the middle of the run (cause it’s what the cool kids do). The anti-inflammatory properties will help your body heal from your hard efforts and ready you for the next training session (hopefully something less strenuous :). The omega-3 fatty acids are a necessary player for brain function (I mean, we need this,….right?!) Fiber really needs no explanation. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy (READ…healthy oxygen transfer, now we’re talking).
In my research, I came across an interesting study that shows a significant promise for quinoa and its ability to possibly lower cholesterol.
Here is an excerpt:
“Animal studies have already demonstrated the ability of quinoa to lower total cholesterol and help maintain levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). While we would expect these results in humans as well, we would also expect the anti-inflammatory nutrients in quinoa to help protect human blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Protection of this kind would also provide reduced risk of many cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis. We expect to see future, large-scale human studies demonstrating the benefits of quinoa for risk reduction in this area of cardiovascular disease.” (if you are interested in the entire article http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142)
Convincing stuff, no?
So, let’s consider how quinoa can work for you in your training. A bowl of quinoa in the morning in place of your oatmeal will deliver a heavier nutrient punch, keep you full longer, stabilized insulin levels, but still deliver on the carbohydrate front to get you moving. Here is one of my favorite ways to eat it in the morning. You can make a big batch and have extra for the whole week. Plus, you can add it to salads or energy cookies as well (now it’s doing a food triathlon).
1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed really well (if you don’t rinse it, it will be bitter)
3 cups coconut milk (I used canned because it was all I had. Or you can use almond milk, I am just a coconut nut!)
Rinse the quinoa well in a tightly weaved wire strainer. Put the quinoa along with the coconut milk in a saucepan and bring to a slight boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and DON’T TOUCH THE LID!! Let it stand for 5 minutes off the heat. You can do some warm up lunges while you wait if you are an impatient little athlete. After the 5 minutes, take a fork and fluff up the quinoa. Now you are ready to make some topping magic happen. I topped mine with chopped up pecans, unsweetened coconut flakes, fresh raspberries and a drizzle of maple sirup. Other toppings ideas include:
- any nut (walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia, cashews)
- chopped dates or dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, papaya)
- berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
- peanut or almond butter (mix it in or place a spoonful on the side of the bowl)
- mini chocolate chips (along with the aforementioned peanut butter….ah, yes please!)
- chopped apples
- sliced bananas
- drizzle of honey or blackstrap molasses
***Get creative and let me know if you find flavor combinations that truly rock!
Thanks for joining me on another Foodie Friday! Food is a constant journey that takes you to new places… & I love being part of your journey.
Other Interesting Reads:
Does Ibuprofen help or hurt during exercise?
Relationship between exercise and inflammation