Barley is one of the oldest domesticated cereal grains still being grown around the world today. It originated in Ethiopia and southeast Asia. It is most often used in bread and malted beverages such as beer (barley beer was likely one of the first alcoholic drinks humans developed). Over the centuries, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes; it is good for clearing up urinary tract infections and is also said to be a good remedy for kidney stones.



What would our Thanksgiving Day feasts be without cranberries? This staple of our holiday dinner has a long, proud history in the United States. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee (, Native Americans used cranberries as a food staple as early as 1550. They ate them fresh and mashed them with cornmeal and baked them into bread. They used maple sugar or honey to sweet them. They also mixed cranberries with wild game and melted fat to make pemmican.



My mother loved decorating for the holidays. From the tree in the den to the lights around all the windows and a big Santa decal on the front door, she was all in. She would also hang a sprig of (fake) mistletoe, complete with sharp-edged leaves and white berries, from the lintel of the doorway between the living room and the kitchen. She and my father always shared the first kiss under the mistletoe after she put it up.


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Although quinoa (pronounced keenwah) is the new trendy superfood, in reality it’s been around for thousands of years. It was the “mother grain” of the ancient Andean civilization; the Incans considered it sacred. It has recently been revived as a new crop of global interest.

Quinoa is “not quite a grass and not quite a cereal,” says the Web site Daily Natural Remedies. It is designated as a “pseudo cereal” because it is not a grass. While it is often mistaken for a grain similar to white rice, brown rice, wheat and barley, it is actually a grain seed. There are three main types of quinoa: white, red and black.

Highly nutritious and versatile, quinoa has plenty of the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) of several beneficial minerals. One cup of quinoa provides 9 percent of your RDA of potassium, 19 percent of your RDA of folate and 58 percent of your RDA of manganese. In addition, quinoa is a good source for essential minerals such as iron, which creates red blood cells, and magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels to enhance blood flow and helps detoxify the body.

Quinoa is loaded with antioxidants, which prevent oxidizing damage in the body and also assist in the fight against a number of diseases, including cancer. Its low glycemic index of 53 makes quinoa good for people who have diabetes.  

Quinoa is low in calories (only 222 in a cup with four grams of fat), so it is a good addition to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. It makes you feel full, reducing your appetite and helping you shed pounds. It’s easy to prepare: Bring two cups of water or stock with one cup of quinoa to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes and add any vegetables or seasonings you like. If you’re trying to add more fiber to your diet, consider quinoa. Fiber not only helps regulate bowel movements, it also reduces your risk of developing diabetes and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Quinoa is high in protein, which increases your metabolism and helps your body break down foods more efficiently. In fact, quinoa is called a “complete protein” because it provides all nine essential amino acids. If you are gluten intolerant, quinoa is gluten free. One quinoa caveat is for people who have recurring kidney stones because it is high in oxalates, which hamper the absorption of calcium and can cause problems for these individuals.

There’s great hope in the food science industry for quinoa. It may possibly be the solution to the problem of feeding the growing world population. It thrives in harsh environments and provides a more balanced source of nutrients than cereal, according to researchers. Scientists have discovered a way of manipulating the

quinoa plant, changing the way it matures and produces food to make its bitter seeds sweeter. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. It may be a good idea to carry the celebration forward every year.


Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by Tanya Tyler