The Inca Empire grew into the largest nation on earth, stretching 2,500 miles from Colombia to Chile along the Andes Mountains. It was linked by sophisticated roads and legendary runners who darted along high mountain paths to deliver communications between villages.
Were betting their most sacred food quinoa, (pronounced KEEN-wah), which means Mother of Grains in Incan was one reason they were so strong. It has a complete protein component, with all of the nine essential amino acids your body needs but cant make. This gluten-free seed (its not a grain, but from a plant related to spinach and Swiss chard) packs incredible nutritional powers.
There are around 120 varieties. White or yellow/ivory is the most common. All varieties MUST be rinsed before cooking to remove bitter saponins, but you dont lose any nutritional value. It has a high protein-to-carb ratio: The germ makes up around 60 percent of the seed; in wheat, its only 3 percent. And it packs more potassium than any true grain. Other nutritional facts: 1 cup has 625 calories; 1.2 g saturated fat; 6 g polyunsaturated fat; and 2.7 g monounsaturated fat; 109 g carbs; 12 g fiber; 24 g protein; 40 percent of vitamin B-6s recommended daily allowance; and 83 percent of your daily magnesium.
Dont overcook it. Boil 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups water for 15 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh strainer; return to covered pan, let rest for another 15 minutes.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of The Dr. Oz Show, and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.