by Susan Schenck
I neither eat nor recommend eating grains. They're not our natural foods, they're acidic, we didn’t evolve eating them, and most wreak havoc on our health. They're promoted as healthy by governments only because they're cheap food for the masses.
Grains are for granivores—that is, grains are for the birds!
One rare exception is a superfood of the Andes: quinoa. For one thing, it's alkaline instead of acidic. We need to eat a diet of 80% alkaline foods and only 20% acidic, but most people do the opposite. As I state in my book The Live Food Factor, “Processed and artificial food products, food high in protein (such as meat, seeds, nuts, eggs), drugs (prescription and recreational), soft drinks, tobacco, all refined sugar and flour products, air pollution and coffee are some of the main exogenous factors in swinging us toward acidity … An acidic environment in the body is also conducive to the growth of health-destroying microorganisms … As toxic depositions are made, arthritis results … As they accumulate in the muscle, the irritation results in muscle aches. As toxic deposits accumulate in glands and organs, disease results there as well.” Fruits, vegetables, and especially greens are alkaline.
The Incas believed that quinoa was sacred and the mother of all grains. The Incan emperor even traditionally sowed the first seeds of the season. But after the European conquest of South America, the Spanish berated quinoa and suppressed — even forbade — its cultivation in favor of wheat. This may have been due to its status within indigenous non-Christian ceremonies. But could it also have been to physically weaken the native population?
You see, quinoa is so nutritious that it's being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights. It's higher in protein than wheat or rice and has a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This is unusual for plant foods. Furthermore, quinoa is not a gluten like wheat, barley, rye, and oats — and it's therefore much easier to digest. It’s also a great source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
The best restaurant I've found for eating quinoa in Cuenca is El Maíz, located on Calle Larga 1-279 y Calle de los Molinos, close to the Banco Central on Calle Larga and Av. Huayna Capac. This restaurant has a great ambience with very reasonable prices and boasts a menu of Ecuadorian cuisine, including a number of various quinoa dishes. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, quinoa can also be found at Las Monjas Restaurante at Borrero 6-40 y Juan Jaramillo — another restaurant with Andean foods.
But quinoa is very easy to fix at home. Organic quinoa can be found in the grains section of Supermaxi. In the fideo (noodle) section there, you can even find quinoa pasta in a box. It can be boiled—but better yet, sprouted. Like nearly all plants, quinoa has toxins to prevent predators from eating it. So ideally, it should be soaked for several hours or overnight, then rinsed thoroughly to get rid of these toxins. Germinating keeps the enzymes intact, increases the nutritional value, and makes it easier to digest. It can be sprinkled on salads, or mixed with raisins, berries, honey, and nuts to be eaten as a cereal. If you must eat it hot, I suggest sprouting it, then lightly steaming it—for only about three or four minutes.
Recipe for Quinoa Tabbouleh
Toss together the following ingredients:• 1 cup sprouted quinoa • 1/3 cup organic olive oil (found at Supermaxi) • 1/3 cup lemon juice ( also found at Supermaxi’s sometimes; if not, use limes) • 1 cup chopped green onions • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (also found at Supermaxi) • 3 tomatoes, chopped • 1 cucumber – peeled, seeded and chopped • 1 teaspoon salt • ground black pepper to taste
Quinoa Christmas Pudding
Take 1 cup of sprouted quinoa, steamed lightly. Mix in raisins, walnuts, and coconut or olive oil to taste. Sprinkle cinnamon. Merry Christmas!
Susan Schenck, LAc, MTOM, is a raw food, health, and weight loss coach and the author of The Live Food Factor and Beyond Broccoli. She resides in Cuenca and can be reached at email@example.com.