femmegypsy

A Contradictory Life

The miracle grain and a 2013 mindset change

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Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food. – Hippocrates

I started the year with all my usual new year’s resolutions in mind: exercise more, eat healthier food more often (read: cut out all the chocolate I eat and coke I drink in between my usually very healthy meals), drink more water, sleep more, see my friends more often, spend more time with my family, travel more, have a more successful work year etc . . . all the usual suspects there. The word “more” repeating far too often; why do I always want more out of life? Or rather, why do I always demand so much more from myself?

I have always relished that time of the year when I think about and set overly ambitious goals for myself, setting these has always made me feel as though the next-year-me will be far superior to my previous self. The brevity of this pride on the contrary has always ensured that I wander around in a despondent state for a big part of the year wondering why I haven’t yet managed to lose those extra five kilograms, why I haven’t volunteered at a children’s home, why I am not on the cover of Shape Magazine, why I do not have an album out, why I am not a Hollywood celebrity? The expectations becoming progressively more unrealistic as the year goes by (hence my annual state of the “October Blues”).

This year I have decided to not set such specific goals for myself but rather to enjoy where I am in the moment, reminiscing fondly about the past and looking forward (and not dreading) the future. Basically I need to see myself as the girl that I am – not superwoman.

On this note, one night last week I decided to cook something new, different and tasty for Wes and I. We were having a chilled night watching series (we are re-watching Friends) and although I love cooking, I do not like to cook anything that requires a lot of time and effort. I am lazy in that respect and you know what, I am okay with that now. Why should I try to perfect a meal that takes days to research, shop for and prepare and is then devoured in fifteen minutes when more often than not food that has been prepared quickly and without much fuss tastes so much better?

I used to make cous cous a lot – the stuff cooks in less than five minutes – perfect. Except for the fact that I stopped eating wheat last year May. Unfortunately cous cous is a type of pasta made from semolina wheat and as such is not suitable for people with a wheat or gluten intolerance. I came across a grain called quinoa quite often during the course of last year whilst researching exactly what I could and could not eat. Quinoa has been described as a “Miracle Food” and ‘The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)’ has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa”.

2013 01 03 QuinoaOn the back of the packet of quinoa that I bought from Dischem the grain was described as following;

“Product of Peru – Quinoa is a food that contains more protein than any other grain and it is considered a complete protein because it has all eight essential amino acids. Quinoa is also higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains. It provides a rich balanced source of vital nutrients.”

I also came across a post, one of many heralding this grain, on one of my favourite blogs; Gluten-free Girl. The following excerpt I saw on this post is from a book called The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. Yes, she loves this grain so much she wrote an entire book about it.

“A careful look at a single grain of quinoa quickly reveals its nutritional superiority to other grains. The germ, equivalent to the yolk of an egg, is the most power-packed part of any seed. In most grains it is little more than a speck, but quinoa’s germ completely surrounds the rest of the seed. This helps explain why quinoa contains up to 20 percent high-quality protein. Hard spring wheat, the next highest common grain in protein, contains only 14 percent by comparison. The United Nations World Health Organization observes that quinoa is closer to the ideal protein balance than any other grain, being at least equal to milk in protein quality. This dynamic grain is high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E.”

This meal was so easy to prepare. Whilst the quinoa was boiling (1 cup to two cups water) I chopped up some fresh mint and parsley (half a cup of each) which I mixed into the quinoa when it was ready.

2013 01 03 QuinoaOn top of this I crumbled some feta and a dash of cayenne pepper (another miracle food, or rather spice, with so many health benefits) On the side I cooked some stewing meat which I bought from Pick n Pay in some garlic and ginger paste. Changes I would make to the meal next time will include using a different cut of meat (it was very tough), using strips and not chunks of meat (as the result in the bowl resembled dog food) and I will add in rosa tomatoes cut into half (to add some much-needed colour).

2013 01 03 QuinoaThe meal was easy to cook, easy to eat and the parsley, mint and ginger flavours combined with the great texture of the light but still grainy and tasty quinoa worked well, in spite of the dreary presentation.

Health benefits of ingredients used

Quinoa: (a grain/seed)

  • Gluten-free.
  • High quality protein with nine essential amino acids (the protein balance is similar to milk).
  • Good source of riboflavin which is vitamin B2 and plays a key role in energy metabolism and for the metabolism of fats, ketone bodies, carbohydrates and proteins.
  • It is also known as an ancient powerfood as the Inca warriors had more stamina and quicker recovery food after eating this preferred energy source.
  • Few calories (only 172 calories per 1/4 cup dry (24 from protein and only 12 from sugars).
  • Complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index which means it won’t spike your blood sugar.
  • full of fibre and healthy fats.

Mint: (herb)

  • Drinking mint herbal tea soothes irritated bowel syndromes and the digestive track, cleanses the stomach and can clear up skin disorders such as acne.
  • Helps eliminate toxins from your body and cleanses our blood.
  • Helps to whiten teeth and combats bad breath.

Parsley: (herb and root vegetable)

  • When I suffered from severe eczema two to three years ago my gran stewed me parsley tea every day as this is know to clear up skin irritations. The Vitamin A prevalent in this leafy green is good for your eyes, skin and immune system. My immune system was shot at this time and I desperately needed any help here. Parsley is also very high in Vitamin C, a well known immune booster.
  • Supports your brain function and healthy blood due to the folate present which is especially important for pregnant women but is an added bonus for everyone
  • the Vitamin K helps your blood clot properly.
  • Parsley is very high in iron (21% of your RDA in just one cup).
  • Use to garnish any dish and I love it as a tea but the taste takes some getting used to.

Feta: (cheese, dairy product)

  • A third lower in fat and calories and normal cheese.
  • High in bone building calcium.
  • Sprinkle over all pastas, salad or any meal really.

Cayenne pepper: (medicinal herb/spice)

  • Eases upset stomachs, sore throats, ulcers and diarrhea - aids in digestion. A healthy digestion system is more important than more people realise (essential for mental, emotional and physical health).
  • Breaks up mucus in your system, great for those of us suffering from post nasal drip and also great for when you have cold or flu systems.
  • Anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce most allergy symptoms.
  • As a circulatory stimulant it is great for a detox.
  • An excellent agent against tooth ache and gum diseases.
  • Topically applied it treats snake bites, rheumatism, inflamation and sores.
  • Both my ma and Wes’s ma are very good at drinking a spoonful in a little bit of water every morning, I cannot quite stomach the burn but I do try and I add it to most of my food.

Garlic:  (thought to be a herb/spice but a vegetable)

  • Promotes the well being of the heart and immune system with antioxidant properties.
  • Maintains healthy blood circulation.
  • The germanium in garlic is an anti-cancer agent and garlic has more of it than any other herb.
  • Regulates blood pressure – low or high. This is great for me as I have low blood pressure so feel tired a lot of the time.
  • Is a defense against allergies
  • Packed with vitamins and nutrients including protein, potassium, Vitamins A, B, B2 and C, Calcium and Zinc.
  • Garlic (as well as onions) are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Thins the blood, similar to aspirin.
  • Add some lemon juice when cooking with garlic or a few slices of fresh lemon as this will stop garlic breath.

Ginger: (herb)

  • Some studies show than ginger may slow the growth of cancer cells (ovarian and colon).
  • Just as effective as vitamin B6 in the treatment of morning sickness.
  • Remedy for the nausea associated with motion sickness.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Natural heartburn remedy when taken in the form of tea.
  • Natural treatment for colds and flu.
  • Great for the digestive tract and again taken in the form of tea it helps for stomach flu or food poisoning.
  • Migraine relief due to its ability to stop inflammation in blood vessels.
  • In Chinese medicine, ginger tea with brown sugar is used in the treatment of menstrual cramps
  • I have always loved ginger, especially ginger bread men and the ginger bread biscuits my ouma bakes. Not too sure if the health effects of the ginger is eroded when used in baking but I will turn a blind eye to that and take my ouma some gluten-free flour to get baking :) The baked goods can then be enjoyed with a cup of ginger tea.