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TCM & the super grains: quinoa and amaranth

04/04/2013

quinoa amaranthTonight for dinner I whipped up a reasonably quick tagine with Japanese sweet potato (the one that is white on the outside and purple on the inside), baby spinach and chickpeas – it’s an adaption of this recipe without the okra. Not wanting to accompany the meal with a gluten grain and needing a change from brown rice, I picked up a packet of mixed grains including white, red and black quinoa (pronounced keenwah) with amaranth.

These grains, or technically seeds, have long been used in South America and are often more easily digested than other grains with the added benefit of a higher protein content. They do have a stronger flavour than rice and wheat (nutty perhaps) but I find that they combine well with strong flavoured foods, such as a fragrant and spicy tagine. So it ended up being a Moroccan – South American fusion, but it worked.

We would assign qualities to these grains in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as follows:

Quinoa

  • Warming
  • A strengthening food
  • Tonifying for Kidney Yang (stokes your internal furnace – builds energy, warmth, sex drive and fluid metabolism).

Amaranth

  • Cooling
  • Dries dampness (excess fluids)
  • Benefits the lungs

I cooked the quinoa and amaranth mix in my rice cooker with a 1 cup of grain to 2 cups of water. If you also make the tagine, I’d recommend increasing the cumin and harissa to bring out more of those beautiful Moroccan flavours.

quinoa amaranth tagine

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

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