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Posts Tagged ‘amaranth’

Topic: Inca Foods

By Manuel Villacorta is a nationally recognized, award-winning registered  dietitian

Growing up in Peru, we ate many foods that you don?t see as often in the  United States. Quinoa, for instance, was everywhere?we used it to feed both  people and chickens! In recent years many of the foods I remember from a Latin  American diet have become available in the US, and it turns out they have highly  beneficial nutritional profiles. That they do should come as no surprise?many of  these are the foods of the Incas, on which those great people built a vast  empire. Today I want to introduce you to the five food wonders of the Incan  world, and suggest you try them out for yourself.

The Incan empire is less familiar perhaps than the Romans, but it shouldn?t  be; by the 16th century its borders extended from Machu Picchu in Peru north to  Ecuador and south along the Andes through modern-day Chile and Argentina. The  Incas had to manage a huge territory, including communicating across vast  distances, so it?s no wonder they were known for their fighting skills, their  endurance, and their strength. Clearly, they benefited from some good nutrition!  In fact, with an empire whose beginning pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in  the Americas, the Incas were fueled by a diet made up of nutritionally dense,  New World foods. Here are five of them.

1. Quinoa: The Incas called this staple of their diet Chehisaya mama,  meaning ?mother of all grains,? and yet quinoa is not actually a grain?it?s a  seed. And what a seed it is: one cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein, is high  in calcium, protein, and iron, and is a good source of Vitamin C as well as  several B-Vitamins. It is high on the lycine/thiamine system, so in combination  with other grains it creates complete proteins. Best of all, it?s incredibly  easy to make, and versatile to eat.  Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes with  two cups of liquid to a cup of quinoa. (Check out my YouTube demonstration on  how to cook quinoa.) Use it as a rice substitute in stir fries, pair it with  fish and vegetables to make a complete entr�e, or put it in a salad or under a  soup as a carbohydrate source. It?s even a breakfast food?boil it with milk, add  walnuts and blueberries, and it?s a delicious alternative to oatmeal.

2. Kiwicha: You may already know this seed by its more common  North American name, amaranth. It?s often called ?mini-quinoa,? but kiwicha is a  much smaller seed. It is very high in protein and has a more complete profile of  amino acids than most other grains, and it is rich in iron, manganese,  magnesium, phosphoros, and copper?minerals essential to healthy physical  functioning. Adding kiwicha to your diet can help decrease plasma cholesterol,  stimulate your immune system, and potentially even inhibit tumors. It also  improves hypertension and reduces blood glucose. In short, it can help support  your body?s essential systems. Kiwicha is like quinoa in one other respect?how  it?s cooked. Prepare just as you would quinoa or rice, and eat it in a  pilaf-like salad. Delicious!

3. Pichuberry: This small, smooth fruit is known in Peru as ?Inca berry,? but it was so  successfully spread by the Spanish after their conquest of the Americas that in  Africa it?s known as the Africa berry, and in Australia it?s called a Cape  gooseberry. Its health benefits are manifest: the pichuberry contains powerful  antioxidants and twenty times the Vitamin-C of an orange; it boosts immunity and  vitality, and there is even promising research suggesting it prevents cellular  aging and the onset of cancer. In Peru it is known as the anti-diabetic fruit  because it reduces blood sugar by stimulating the production of insulin. And its  nutrient profile (Provitamin A, B-Complex vitamins, thiamine, nyacine,  phosphoros) is associated with liver fortification, lung strength, fertility,  and food absorption. It makes a great salad when paired with quinoa, tastes  incredible with dark chocolate, and is a delicious replacement for blueberries  on your morning oatmeal.

pichuberries

4. Sacha Inchi: These seeds of the Inchi plant are often called  Inca-peanuts, and they are one of the best plant sources for the Omega family of  fatty acids. With 48% Omega-3, 36% Omega-6, and rich supplies of Iodine, Vitamin  A, and Vitamin E, the Inca-peanut has major health benefits in terms of  restoring your lipid balance, encouraging the production of HDL (high-density  lipoprotein, responsible for transporting lipids through your bloodstream), and  fighting conditions like heart disease and diabetes. You can certainly eat Sacha  Inchi like you would other nuts, but you might prefer to buy the oil and use it  to dress salads in place of olive oil (with its low burning-point, it is  somewhat tricky to use as a cooking oil).

5. Purple Potatoes: Potatoes are a remarkably diverse and nutritious  New World food?in Peru there are over 3,000 kinds! The one that was particularly  eaten by the Incas was the purple potato, which has started to appear in North  American supermarkets. The anthocyanins in the potatoes give them their  distinctive purple/blue color; these natural chemicals are flaminoids?substances  with powerful anti-cancer and heart protective effects. Flaminoids also  stimulate the immune system and protect against age-related memory loss. These  potatoes are delicious, with a distinctive nutty, earthy, slightly bitter  flavor. I prefer to roast them:  I use a pump mister filled with olive or  peanut oil?not an artificial cooking spray?to lightly spritz the quartered  potatoes, which I then spread in a roasting pan, sprinkle with kosher salt and a  little garlic powder or Italian seasonings, and roast for about 15 minutes at  400 degrees. Once the potatoes are cooked they are a great carb source for a  variety of meals; I make a batch on Sunday, and use them through the week  scrambled with eggs for breakfast, in a salad for lunch, or reheated with  chicken or fish for dinner.

All of these delicious foods have begun making an appearance in North  American supermarkets, and are still in the fully natural, nutritious state they  were in when they sustained the Incas through the building of a great empire.  Try them out. Your health and your taste buds will thank you.

Original article:

latino.foxnews.com

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