Quinoa – A Food So Good, 2013 Is Dedicated To It!

Quinoa is one of the world’s most nutritious foods. This grain-like crop contains all 10 essential amino acids for a human diet, as well as other important vitamins and minerals. As a source of protein it is on a par with meat, and has a greater calorific value than eggs and milk. It is gluten-free, and commonly available in wholefood shops.

It also contains two phytoestrogen thought to help prevent osteoporosis and other menopausal symptoms.

The native quinoa plant originated in the Andean region of South America and is now cultivated in Bolivia, Peru and the United States. It manages to survive in the harshest of conditions where virtually nothing else grows.

Its small-scale Andean producers have carefully developed many varieties of Quinoa over hundreds of years. In recognition of this contribution to food security, the United Nations has launched 2013 as‘International Year of Quinoa’.

Quinoa can be used to produce a wide range of foods including bread, cakes and soup and juice. If you’ve not tried it before, how about celebrating Year of Quinoa with this delicious recipe from Real Foods‘ booklet ‘Recipes: Gluten-free, Wheatfree, Dairy-free’.

Quinoa with broccoli and cashews

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Half a medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 125g sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 125ml vegetable stock
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 110g uncooked quinoa
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 125g broccoli florets
  • 110g roasted cashew pieces
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a medium pan
  2. Add red onion and garlic, and cook for 3 mins
  3. Add tomatoes, stock, wine and lemon juice, and bring to boil
  4. Stir in quinoa and salt
  5. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 mins
  6. Arrange the broccoli on top of the quinoa, cover and simmer for an additional 5-6 mins
  7. Remove from heat and toss gently to combine
  8. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Transfer to plates and serve garnished with cashews and spring onions

Look After Your Back

Most people get back pain at some point in their lives. Sometimes one small awkward movement can leave you in severe pain – it’s so unfair!! However, you can do a lot to reduce the risk of hurting your back by making some small changes in your everyday activities.

If you do hurt your back, massage treatments can help.

General advice

  • Your spine: All spines have a hollow in the base of your neck and another in the lower back. Try to keep your spine in its natural shape whatever you do.
  • Lying in bed: Your bed should support your spine so that its natural curves are maintained when lying on your back – your matress should be not too hard and not too soft. You should be able to slide your hand (palm down) into the small of your back.
  • Sitting: When you sit on a chair, your feet should be on the ground (or on a foot-rest) with your hips slightly higher than your knees. Try not to sit for more than 20 minutes without getting up, having a stretch and moving around. Don’t sit up in bed to watch TV or read as this strains the back.
  • Lifting and carrying: Avoid lifting heavy objects on your own if you can. Before lifting anything off the floor, bend your knees (not your back), kneel on one knee with the other foot flat on the ground. Once you’ve lifted the object, keep your feet wide apart to help you feel stable and keep the load close to your body.
  • Resting: Rest regularly during periods of vigorous activity and only work within your tolerance levels.
  • Clothes and shoes: Loose-fitting clothes allow you to bend more easily. Wear shoes with cushioned soles, like trainers, and avoid high heels.
  • Keeping fit: Strengthening your back muscles and keeping fit is important. Walking is a good way to start keeping fit. If you want to do more, swimming is a very good exercise for your back, or you could try an exercise bike. Whatever you do, get some advice from a trainer to make sure you’re exercising in the right way.

Housework and gardening

  • Washing up: as you wash up try to not to stoop, and rest one foot on a ledge in front of you (e.g. a low cupboard shelf below the sink) for a few minutes and then the other foot. Alternatively sit on a high stool.
  • Ironing: adjust the height of the ironing board so that you don’t have to stoop over it.
  • Vacuuming: push your vacuum cleaner in front of you rather than pulling and pushing from side to side.
  • Bed-making: When making your bed, kneel on a cushion to tuck in the sheets. Fitted sheets and duvets may make bed-making easier.
  • Reaching high up: use a ladder rather than over stretching.
  • Gardening: Do some gentle stretching before and after. Bend from your knees or use a kneeler when weeding. Use long handled tools to prevent excessive bending. Switch tasks regularly and pace yourself to your own level of fitness. Ask for help with heavy digging, scarifying and hedge cutting.

Working at a desk and computer

  • Sitting: Make sure that you can adjust your chair so that your lower back is properly supported. Have your knees level with your hips
  • Arms: Ensure your elbows are no further forward than the line of your body when using the keyboard and mouse.
  • Breaks: Move away from your desk on a regular basis and try some simple stretching exercises; Try to take a short walk at lunchtimes

You might also be interested in Desk exercises for the office bound.

And you’ll find lots more useful information about looking after your back on the website BackCare – the charity for healtier backs.