The Glycemic Index, Grains and Cancer

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Your mission this week: think grains. Grains have been associated with lower cancer risks and whole grains in particular are low on the glycemic scale. Glycemic load and glycemic index measure the impact of a food on blood sugar levels. The goal is to keep levels steady and avoid insulin spikes that suddenly raise blood sugar levels.

There are a number of whole grains to consider like quinoa, pearled barley and lentils. They add different textures and flavor profiles to your dishes. They are far healthier choices than white rice or pasta. Try them as a salad or a side, in soups and as a mainstay in bowls.

This week your mission is to add some whole grains to your meals. Rebecca focuses on one grain (a persona favorite!), quinoa.

I always think it’s wise to carry a small patch and repair kit when you’re out bike riding. It comes in very handy if your bike gets a flat tire. Quinoa (say it with me: KEEN-wah) is the food equivalent, an amazing little grain that rebuilds the body when it needs repair, like after a workout. It can do that because it contains all of the essential amino acids (those we must get from dietary sources), allowing the body to build protein. It’s also full of magnesium, which is great for relaxing muscles and preventing cramps.

From a culinary standpoint, it’s wonderful because it doesn’t get mushy when combined with other foods; instead, you get a nutty fluff-fest. Here I’ve paired it with edamame in a salad seasoned with ginger, lemon, and lime. By the way, this dish benefits from being made ahead of time because the flavor deepens as it sits.  

Quinoa with Ginger, edamame and lime

Makes 6 Servings

2 1/2 cups Magic Mineral Broth, or water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups red or white quinoa, rinsed well in cold water and drained
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Pinch of cayenne
1 cup fresh or frozen edamame, mixed with a spritz of lime juice and a pinch of salt
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, basil, or parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Put the broth and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat. Add the ginger, cayenne, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and fluff with a fork until well combined. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and let cool to room temperature Add the edamame, red bell pepper, scallions, mint, cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, lemon zest, and lime zest and stir until well combined. Do a FASS check; you may need to add a pinch or two of salt, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or a dash of olive oil.

COOK’S NOTE: Color is key when it comes to quinoa. When cooked, white quinoa has the subtlest flavor. Red has an earthy flavor and is a bit chewier and nuttier. Black quinoa is the most striking in appearance and is perfect for salads because it retains its shape and crunchy texture best.

Reprinted with permission from Rebecca Katz.

The Glycemic Index and Carbohydrates

More Recipes

Pearled Barley Salad with Apples, Pomegranate Seeds and Pine Nuts

Lentil Burgers

Spiced and Herbed Millet

More Reading

Cooking with Whole Grains

Mechanisms for the Impact of Whole Grain Foods on Cancer Risk

Foods That Fight Cancer: Whole Grains

The Glycemic Index and Cancer


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