Wellness Wednesday – Superfoods of South America

Wellness Wednesday & Nutrition

I have not yet been to South America and as a non-meat eater, I am anxious that I will find tasty and nutritious food to eat there. The growing popularity of some ‘superfoods’ from South America leaves me a little more hopeful that I can eat well when I eventually make it to this continent. Three of these foods are quinoa, kaniwa and amaranth. 

All three ancient crops share the following. They are:

  • a good source of plant protein
  • gluten-free
  • considered ‘pseudo-grains’ ie not technically a cereal grain but eaten as such
  • nutritious and rich in minerals like calcium
  • of cultural and religious significance to Indigenous people of the Americas (central and south)
  • good for heart health

Quinoa has been the darling of the superfoods realm for some time now. It comes in ivory, red and black and must be thoroughly rinsed to remove the bitter saponin coating. It is also easy to sprout.

Kaniwa is the lesser known cousin of quinoa but will soon come into its own once more is known about its health benefits.

Amaranth is one of the few plant sources of complete protein (ie containing all essential amino acids). Both the leaves and grains can be eaten.

Let your taste buds travel, either by consuming these grains in their native countries or in your own backyard. Start with a small amount purchased from the bulk section of your grocery store. Follow guidelines for preparation and substitute for rice, pasta or porridge in your regular recipes. You can also search numerous recipes on the internet for more serving suggestions.

For more about quinoa and amaranth, check out the following links from the Whole Grains Council.

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