Protein Protein Protein – we all need it. Endurance athletes may even need more than most. I recently became aware of a great new vegetarian protein source that has some amazing qualities.
This endurance sports superfood is call Quinoa!
What is this food called Quinoa?
Quinoa is a small edible seed about half the size of a grain of brown rice. It is grown from a plant that is mainly grown and harvested in South America. It has a very mild taste similar to brown rice but different.
What are Quinoa’s great qualities?
- Complete Protein – Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids which is not typical of most plant protein sources. Also 12-18% of its calories are protein based so for example one cooked cup has 8 g of protein. Not bad!
- An array of Vitamins and Minerals plus fiber – Fairly significant quantities of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, folate, and manganese. Here is the complete nutritional profile. Add in 5 g of fiber for one cooked cup and you have yourself a healthy little food item.
- Gluten-free – For those that have gluten sensitives, Quinoa is a nutritious food choice.
- Quick cook time – Within about 10 minutes it is ready to eat! This is a vast improvement versus brown rice which takes 45 minutes to an hour to cook.
- Easy to digest – Quinoa is complete protein source and it does not require as much energy to digest as compared to a meat product of some kind. Less body energy is being used to digest and more is available to heal and rebuild.
- Easy to make – Rinse Quinoa then place two parts water for every one part Quinoa in cook pan. Cover and low simmer for 10 or so minutes. (or follow the directions on the bag or bulk bin) The seed will have a clear-like appearance when ready to eat. Toss on your plate, add a dash of Celtic sea salt, then gobble up. Similar to rice, you probably could could use Quinoa for many more elaborate dishes.
- Low cost – From doing a quick search online, it appears to be about $2-3/lb for organic Quinoa for smaller packaged quantities. I am pretty sure I paid in the $1.xx/lb range (update: I actually paid $3.39/lb) in Whole Foods bulk section. I will double check and update next time I head to the store.
- Reduced environmental impact as compared to meat products – Reducing the amount of meat (especially beef) consumed can have a hugely positive impact on our world. Beef requires an extremely large amount of resources to get to your plate. I am not saying you need to eat grass, twigs, and berries for every meal but even one meat protein source replaced with a non-meat protein source will make a difference. Simple action, huge impact. This straight-forward little article provides a bit of insight with respect to energy use, water, and land, for a few meat and non-meat food items. I honestly had no idea.
If you are looking for a new protein source and/or a minimally processed food item, Quinoa is worth checking out. Its many qualities are outstanding and your body will say num.
The web is full of recipes that are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Search around and if you find any or already know of recipes that you like, please share. I would love to know about them as I have just begun to explore this healthy little seed.
Posted on 13 Jan 2009