2 Superfoods You Don't Know About
By Adrienne Turner
If you're like most Americans and made a New Year's resolution to eat healthier, then I have some tips for you. A healthy diet needn't be composed solely of spinach and salmon. That's right: There are many other lesser-known foods that can make your diet healthy, varied and delicious.
Looking for additional protein in your diet? Forget meat or protein shakes; quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) contains more protein than any other grain. Termed a "supergrain" by nutritionists and food gurus, quinoa is derived from the seed of a plant that is related to spinach. A main staple of the ancient Inca diet, quinoa has just recently made its debut in North America.
Quinoa's secret is that it contains an amino acid called lysine, which is lacking in most grains; lysine makes quinoa a complete protein. In addition to the protein you'll receive (the World Health Organization equates the protein levels in quinoa to the amount found in milk), you'll also get your daily doses of vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, potassium, and riboflavin. Furthermore, quinoa is a great source of copper, zinc, magnesium, and folate.
The best way to consume quinoa is to toast the seeds in a dry skillet (after rinsing them thoroughly). Toasted quinoa can then be combined with oil, spices and water to create a pilaf-type dish. Incorporate fruit, nuts, cheese or fresh herbs into the pilaf to create a whole, well-balanced meal. Cooked quinoa can also be added to soups, stir-fries, casseroles or stews, and cold cooked quinoa is a great addition to salads.
Although quinoa has been around for centuries, it is relatively new to North America; therefore, it is more costly than other grains. However, it tends to triple in size after cooking, so you will get your money's worth.
Amaranth is another supergrain that is extremely high in protein. Amaranth seeds, derived from the amaranth plant, are similar to quinoa in that they contain lysine, the amino acid lacking in most other grains that is responsible for adding protein.
Amaranth contains three times more fiber and five times more iron than wheat, and has more protein than milk.
In addition to these benefits, amaranth also has high levels of vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
Amaranth is a very versatile grain that can be used in a variety of different dishes. It is regularly made into flour and used to create breads, pastas or other baked goods (found primarily in health food stores). Unlike most other grains, amaranth does not contain gluten, which makes it a perfect choice for people with celiac disease or a gluten allergy.
This supergrain is found extensively in health-food or whole-food markets in the form of hot and cold cereals, ready-made bread and mixes for baked goods (such as pancakes and muffins). It can also be used as a breading substitute for meats, fish or chicken, and it can be added to soups or salads (it has a nutty flavor that complements cold and hot foods nicely).