Quinoa, the Noteworthy Superfood

Over the last decade quinoa (keen wah) and other “ancient grains” have grown in popularity.  Quinoa has become praised as a superfood across the United States and Europe. This comes as no surprise, really, as quinoa is packed full of nutritional benefits.

Quinoa, the Noteworthy Superfood

History

Quinoas roots are firmly planted in South America, primarily in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Quinoa, along with maize, was one of the two core foods of the Inca Empire. The fact that quinoa was a food that could survive a variety of growing conditions along with its nutrient strength made it a staple amongst the Incas for hundreds of years.

Around 1532 quinoa came close to disappearing, according to the Whole Grains Council. This was during the Spanish invasion of South America. Colonists spurned quinoa as “foods for the Indians.” The conquistadors forbade the growth and harvest of quinoa for a time and forced the Incas to grow wheat instead. Small pockets of wild quinoa survived the conquistador’s annihilation in higher altitudes. The plant was largely forgotten until the 1970’s when it was “rediscovered” by the outside world.

Production

Much of the quinoa consumed today still comes from South America. According to WHFoods, Peru is the largest commercial producer of quinoa. In 2010, Peru harvested nearly 41,079 metric tons of the crop. Bolivia is the second largest producer of quinoa, having harvested 29,500 metric tons in 2010. These two countries produced nearly 99% of all commercially grown quinoa in 2010.

WHFoods states that there is some commercial quinoa production in the United States, however, production remains under 10,000 pounds. California, Washington, Oregon, and the Colorado Rockies have seen some quinoa production. The biggest barrier to U.S. production is climate, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AGMRC). Quinoa needs to be grown in cool, mountainous regions, because air temperatures above 90-95 degrees can cause sterility of the pollen.

There are over 120 varieties of quinoa. White, red, and black quinoa are the most commonly cultivated forms.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

Botanically speaking, quinoa is not a grain, and what we are eating is the seed of the plant. Quinoa is actually related to beets, spinach and chard. You can even eat the leaves of the quinoa plant. From a culinary standpoint, quinoa is what is called a “pseudo-cereal.”   Pseudo-cereal is a name given to foods that are eaten and cooked like grains and have similar nutrient profiles. Quinoa is included in the grains food group.

  • Quinoa is gluten-free which makes it a great substitute for more common grains like wheat and other grains in the grass family.
  • It is beneficial to people trying to lose weight as it helps you to stay fuller longer.
  • Quinoa is a complete protein. The protein content per 100 calories is higher than barley, brown rice, millet, and potatoes, but less than oats and wild rice.
  • Of all of the whole grains, quinoa contains the most potassium. Potassium is known to help control blood pressure.
  • It contains essential amino acids like lysine and adequate amounts of calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
  • Tests are showing that quinoa contains anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
  • A ¾ cup of cooked quinoa contains 59% of the DV of manganese recommended, 40% of phosphorus, 21% of fiber, and 19% of the recommended folate (an essential nutrient for expecting women).
  • Antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol are found in abundance in quinoa. Sometimes the concentration of these two flavonoids can be greater in quinoa than in high-flavonoid berries like lingonberry or cranberry.

Cooking Tips

  • To help eliminate the bitter taste that sometimes accompanies quinoa you should soak or rinse before cooking. Place the quinoa in a mesh strainer and run cold water over the seeds while gently rubbing the seeds together in your hands. This process should only take a few minutes.
  • Cook quinoa with one part grain, two parts liquid. (One cup quinoa, two cups water, for example.) The liquid can be water, or to get different flavors, you could use broth. Vegetable, beef, and chicken broth all taste excellent cooked into quinoa.
  • Add spices of your choice.
  • Bring mixture to a boil then simmer for around 15 minutes.
  • Fluff then serve.
  • For a nuttier flavor dry roast the quinoa before following the above steps. To dry roast, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir constantly for about 5 minutes.

Fun Facts

Currently our page does not have a recipe featuring quinoa, but we have included a recipe to try.

Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with chipotles, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable juice

Directions

Preheat broiler. Cut bell peppers and chiles in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet, and flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add zucchini, onion, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and paprika; sauté for 30 seconds. Add roasted peppers and chiles, 1/2 cup water, and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.

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Prickly Pear Festival this Saturday, August 22nd!

Earlier this month we posted about the edible plants of the desert, and one of those plants was the prickly pear cactus. If your interest was peaked, you should head to Superior, Arizona this Saturday (August 22nd) for their fourth annual Prickly Pear Festival!

Prickly Pear Festival

Attendees can start the day with a hike followed by a pancake breakfast with prickly pear syrup. After breakfast wander around the old high school and check out the different vendors selling various prickly pear foods and ware. Visit the Cactus Lounge with art and entertainment and try a prickly pear beer, wine or margarita. There will also be demonstrations and talks on the uses of the prickly pear.

You can find everything from prickly pear fudge to cookies as well as artwork, photography, and jewelry featuring the cactus. This is the season when the desert blooms red with the succulent fruit, so if you want to learn how to use a new treat, head out to Superior for a day full of fun!

Admission is free. Tickets for the dinner and entertainment are $25 and are being sold by the Chamber of Commerce 520-689-0200.

 

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Healthy Breakfasts for the Family on the Go

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it is unfortunately the one that many people skip. For a lot of families there is just not enough time in the mornings to sit and have a nutritious meal. We’ve compiled 5 healthy breakfasts for you to try.

Healthy Breakfasts

With a little prepping the night before, or over the weekends, you will find that you can have a healthy breakfast every day of the week.  There are dozens of quick and nutritious breakfasts that can be found on the web. Pinterest is a great tool to find on the go breakfasts. There are even some recipes on our site that will work, click on recipes and under “popular categories” you will find “breakfasts”. Click on that and a list of yummy recipes will come up.

Slow Cooker Overnight Breakfast Casserole

This one is great to prep and start before bed and eat the next morning. It is probably best to make sure you have a little sitting time in the morning for eating this one.

  • 2 Packages Johnsonville Hot & Spicy Breakfast Sausage (12 ounces each)
  • 1 Cup Chopped Green Onions
  • 1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 1 Can Diced Mild Green Chilies (4 ounces)
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 Package Frozen Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes (30 ounces)
  • 1 ½ Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 12 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Pepper

Directions:

Cook sausage according to package directions; cut into ¼-inch slices; set aside. In a bowl, combine green onions, red pepper, chilies and cilantro; set aside. Spray the interior of a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker with vegetable cooking spray. Layer one-third of the hash browns, sausage, green onion mixture and cheese into crock. Repeat layers twice. In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper; pour over layered ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until thermometer inserted into the center reads 160°F. Serve

Egg Muffins

Makes about 12 to 16 muffins.  Muffins can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three or four days.

  • 2 mild chicken sausages, removed from casing
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup carrots, grated
  • ½ cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh basil, diced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 10 – 12 eggs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Well grease a 12-cup muffin pan with coconut oil. In a skillet, cook sausage until cooked through and no longer pink.  Make sure to break the sausage up into “crumb” size pieces. In a medium bowl, combine cooked sausage, red bell pepper, shredded carrots, spinach, and basil.  Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt and pepper.  Add egg mixture to the sausage and veggie mixture and stir to combine. Using a measuring cup or an ice cream scoop fill muffin cups with egg mixture being sure not to fill cups to the rim.  Bake the egg muffins for 20 to 25 minutes or until eggs are set in the middle.

Breakfast Cookies

These are great to grab as you run out the door. They go well with coffee and hot cocoa. The cookies can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container.

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
  • ½ cup raisins or currants
  • ½ cup finely chopped dried mango
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dried papaya
  • 1 cup banana chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Beat butter in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar; beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla; beat until just combined. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until well combined. Add oats, almonds, seeds, coconut, raisins or currants, mango, and papaya, and beat to combine. Form dough into 8 cookies (using 1 cup each) or about 14 smaller cookies (using 1/2 cup each), and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Top with banana chips. Bake until golden and firm, 30 minutes for large cookies and 20-25 minutes for smaller cookies. Let cool completely on baking sheets, about 30 minutes.

Avocado – Vanilla Pear Juice Smoothie

This is a dairy-free smoothie that is great for breakfast before work or school. It is quick to make and quick to drink and full of nutrients and vitamins. This recipe yields two servings.

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 cup no-sugar-added pear nectar, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Directions:

Puree ingredients in a blender until smooth. If too thick, add more nectar to adjust consistency.

5 Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Adding in some dried fruit and/or a small amount of chocolate chips or using almond butter in place of peanut butter are good ways to mix it up a bit. This recipe is another great one to make ahead of time and grab as you run out the door.

Dry (use scant measurements):

  • 1 & ¾ C rolled oats
  • 1 C crisp puffed brown rice cereal
  • ¼  C pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ C sunflower seeds
  • ¼  C chia seeds OR 1/8 C finely ground flaxseed (both optional)
  • ¼  C unsweetened coconut (optional)

Wet (use generous measurements):

  • 1/2 C brown rice syrup
  • 1/3 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

Directions

Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Mix them together. In a separate (microwave safe) bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, then microwave them for about 20 to 30 seconds. This will make it easier to mix and add to the dry ingredients since it’s really sticky! Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix! Keep mixing until the wet binding ingredients are as well distributed as possible. Put some muscle into it! Put the mixture into a shallow pan and flatten it down. Place pan in fridge to let the bars chill/set. After about 30 minutes in the fridge (or you can wait until the next day – whatever works), cut them into bars, then wrap them up in foil and store back in the fridge (or in the freezer!) for easy grabbing and going.

We hope you enjoy these healthy breakfasts ideas to try!

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5 Easy Tips for Keeping Away the Freshman 15

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

When entering your first year of college, you may hear quite a few references to the “freshman 15.” This refers to the 15 or so pounds of weight many students gain during their first year of college; and since we are going into a new school year, I thought I’d take the time to discuss this topic.

Freshman 15

Between the unhealthy diets and lack of sleep, college is a cesspool of weight-gain. As a college student myself, managing my time is already hard enough, so when it comes to managing other things in my life, especially my diet, I probably don’t do as well as I should. I’ve found that this is a problem that I am not alone in suffering from, and that most of my friends and classmates are finding it difficult to maintain a balanced diet as well; but a balanced diet is just one way to steer clear of those unwanted pounds.

Here is a list of 5 ways to help keep off the “freshman 15,” with suggestions, tips and tricks coming straight from college students like you.

  1.  Drink lots of water

Drinking 8 glasses of water every day is not recommended by health care professionals for no reason. Staying hydrated helps the body function. Not only does it keep your internal organs going strong, but it keeps skin beautiful and muscles energized. It can also help manage weight. Everybody knows that soda simply isn’t good for you, and with high calorie counts and outrageous amounts of sugar, a soda will really help you pack on the pounds. From personal experience, I have replaced almost all sugary drinks, including soda, in my diet with water and have seen some major changes happen. Not only have I already dropped a pound or two, but I’m less bloated and have been sleeping better, too.

Did you know: If you swap soda for water at lunch you are cutting out 100-150 calories and 33 grams of sugar. (That’s the amount of sugar in three chocolate-frosted donuts!)

Tips for getting more water in your diet:

  • Keep water on you at all times.
  • Order water instead of soda when dining out.
  • Infuse your water with fruits or vegetables to make it taste better.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies (They contain water!) 
  1. Get the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours)

Like I said before, I’ve been sleeping better ever since I started drinking more water, and sleep is a very important part of the equation. Health care professionals recommend that everyone gets seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Of course, sometimes even seven hours proves to be hard to achieve when going to college, but as long as most nights you are getting between seven and nine hours, you’re good to go. When you don’t get enough sleep you are putting yourself at risk of needing an early morning and a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, which always leads to grabbing a soda or two and a sugar-filled treat to quickly wake you up. Of course, having a few sodas and a donut is not very good for the whole keeping-off-the-weight thing.

Did you know: According to the Sleep Foundation, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (appetite hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.

Tips for getting more sleep:

  • Sleep completely in the dark.
  • Stop the use of electronic devices an hour or more before going to bed.
  • Don’t drink caffeine for at least six hours before going to bed. 
  1. Stock up on healthy snacks

Doctors recommend that people eat three meals a day and snack in between. When going to work, school or any other activity, make sure your bag or pockets have something healthy in them for you to snack on when you get the urge. Almonds are a great and portable snack, as well as dried apricots or plums. Somewhere else you should keep healthy snacks is around your dorm room. My friend, Kathryn, always keeps fruit like apples and bananas in her room so when she takes a break from studying she can just relax for a minute and have a snack that is healthy and doesn’t require any preparation. Other things that are easy to keep in a dorm room, especially if there is a mini fridge, are Greek yogurt, strawberries and blueberries, Wheat Thins, peanut butter and trail mix.

Did you know: There are just 95 calories in an apple compared to 152 calories in one ounce of potato chips.

Tips on what snacks to combine:

  • Put peanut butter and raisins on celery to make your favorite childhood snack: ants on a log.
  • Drop some raspberries and blueberries into plain Greek yogurt.
  • Spread some canned tuna on whole wheat crackers 
  1. Take your lunch with you

When going to college, it’s very easy to just run to the student union in between classes to eat, or go off campus to your favorite fast food place. I’ve done those two thing so many times I can’t count, but easy is not always the best for you. In many student unions the set up for dining is ‘buffet style.’ You can just keep going back and getting more and more food. If you have a meal plan that you pay for so you HAVE to use the student union, try portion control and go for the healthiest options like salads. If you live at home or can keep supplies in your dorm room, try making and bringing your own lunch. My friend, Kaycee, regrets her decision to not bring her lunch to school. She was eating at fast food restaurants every day and her cash flow was quickly draining. Some things you can keep at home or in your dorm room to make for lunch are peanut butter, jelly and bread, for sandwiches, and if you have a refrigerator you can also keep lunch meats and condiments to use.

Did you know: Wheat bread has about 69 calories per slice while white bread has about 79 calories per slice.

Tips on what to pack in a lunch:

  • The main part of your lunch can consist of anything you could imagine: Sandwiches, a grilled chicken breast, salad, soup, and much more.
  • You can also add things from the above snack category to enhance your lunches. 
  1. Exercise (And have fun with it!)

This is something I have always been very bad at managing. I’ve never exercised enough. Jogging on a treadmill and having people stare at me just doesn’t appeal to me. For some people, the gym works. But for people like me, it is one of the most disliked places in town. Of course exercise is one of the main ways to keep away unwanted weight, but going to the gym and doing the same thing over and over and over again just gets a little boring. Try to create an exercise routine that works for you and is fun! Maybe you like swimming, look for a local gym that has a pool that you can use. If you like to dance, then join a Zumba class or take a dance class from the local dance program, wherever that may be.

If you like going to the gym, then go to the gym. I’ve found that with my busy college schedule sometimes all I have time for is a quick jog in the morning or evening. If you are the same way, take music with you to listen to while you jog, or better yet, take a friend to keep you company.

Despite all the online courses we take nowadays, we still have a lot of places to walk while on campus (besides the student union to eat). Our exercise professionals still say one of the best forms of exercise is good, brisk walk.

Did you know: Most people burn around 100 calories every mile they run.

Tips on exercising:

  • Don’t push yourself too hard.
  • If you start jogging or running don’t try to complete two miles your first time, start out small and work your way up.
  • Work out with a friend, it’s much more fun to do things with company, pick a workout style that works best for you whether that’s weight lifting, running, dancing, playing a sport or walking on a treadmill.

I’m not going to lie to you. College can be hard and scary. Every single student is going to have their own unique experience, including gaining some weight or not gaining weight at all. My friends and I have not had the same college experience in the least, but we all agree that staying healthy is a MUST for students.

No matter how much you weigh or if you’ve gained or lost that “freshman 15,” find what is healthy for you and keep yourself there.

 

Lauren Scott - Freshman 15

Lauren Scott is a current student of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, and is working toward a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a focus on public relations. Lauren is the Arizona Farm Bureau’s communications intern and teaches piano lessons in her free time. 

 

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National Peach Month – 12 Peachy Keen Peach Facts

It is August, and that means it is National Peach Month.

National Peach Month is meant to honor the delicious flavor of the juicy peach. Peaches can be eaten right off the tree, sliced in cream and yogurt, blended into smoothies, or made into a scrumptious pie or cobbler topped with ice cream.

National Peach Month

Celebrate National Peach Month by enjoying them in as many ways as you can come up with, and while you do, keep these facts in mind.

  1. Originating in China, the peach has been cultivated since at least 1000 B.C.E.
  2. The French brought peaches to the US through Louisiana, and the English introduced them to their colonies in Jamestown and Massachusetts.
  3. Christopher Columbus carried peach trees on his second voyage to America.
  4. California puts out nearly 50% of the US’ peaches, and is the third top producer in the world. China is the number one producer of peaches and Italy is the second.
  5. Peach pits are poisonous containing hydrocyanic acid.
  6. Peaches are high in vitamins A, B and C.
  7. The peach is sodium free, cholesterol free, and free of saturated fats.
  8. A medium peach only contains around 37 calories.
  9. There are over 700 varieties of peaches.
  10. Peaches are climacteric. This means they continue to ripen after being picked off the tree.
  11. Peaches are best stored with high humidity and at temperatures of 32 °F. Peaches are highly perishable fruits and should be eaten or canned within two weeks of their harvest.
  12. There are several varieties of peaches, however, there are two different kinds cultivated today; clingstones, which feature flesh that tightly attaches to the stone or seed in the middle, and freestones, which do not. The freestones are commonly used for canning peaches.

Currently, Apple Annie’s Orchards in Wilcox is hosting their 16th annual Peach Mania. Enjoy an all you can eat peaches and pancakes breakfast served from 7:30-10:30 AM on Saturdays and Sundays. Take a free wagon ride and pick your own peaches right off of the tree. Sample on peaches and dozens of peach products for free! Enjoy an apple-smoked hamburger lunch from 11:30- 3:00 PM daily.

If you can’t make it out to Apple Annie’s this month you can try Schnepf Farms at a later date. Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek is one of Arizona’s better known peach growers. They have been growing peaches in the valley for 50 years! Their peach season begins earlier than much of the country (due to Arizona’s warmer temperatures), running from late April through May.

Each year Schnepf Farms hosts a Peach Blossom Celebration as well as their extremely popular Peach Festival. The next Peach Blossom Celebration is set to begin on February 4, 2016, and will run until March 1, 2016. This event was created to let the public visit the farm and enjoy the trees while they are covered in pink and white blossoms. Professional photographers will be happy to hear that they allow you to photograph clients at the farm during this time for a fee of only $100 for three hours.

The next Peach Festival is expected to run from May 14, 2016, through May 22, 2016. When the time comes, check their webpage for exact date and times as they are subject to change depending on the peaches.  This event is set up for the public to come in and sample and pick peaches. Visitors can choose from the six peach varieties they have available on the farm. Varieties they offer are the Earligrand (the largest peach grown on the farm), Florida King, Florida Prince (a medium sized peach), Snow Angle (small to medium sized white peaches), Springcrest, and Super Lady (juicy and sweet). Other activities will include hay rides to the orchards, live music, carousel rides, train rides, carnival rides, water activities and peachy arts and crafts booths and more. Peach pies, peach cookies, peach cinnamon rolls, peach cobbler, peach salsa, and other peachy foods will be available for purchase and sampling at the Peachy Sampling Pavilion.

Peaches are available for picking at many Arizona farms including the above mentioned Schnepf Farms and Apple Annie’s Orchards, as well as Sphinx Date Ranch and more.  The peach season in Arizona varies with the location of the farm, so check their website for picking season.  To find a local u-pick farm you can go to fillyourplate.org.

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