What is Quinoa? [keen-wah, kee-noh-uh]
Originally popular as a vegan or vegetarian staple, quinoa has now gone mainstream due to its enormous health and nutrition benefits. It’s not only nutritious and delicious, it’s relatively inexpensive too. I like to say you get a lot of bang for your buck. Quinoa has a pleasant nutty taste, is a complete protein, and it’s incredibly easy to cook.
Quinoa is a tall crop plant, cultivated mainly in theAndes—Peru,Bolivia, and Chili, for its small seeds. In fact it has been called “the gold of the Incas.” More recently it’s been labeled as a super-grain of the future.
What is the Nutrition in Quinoa?
One cup of cooked Quinoa has 222 calories, 4 grams fat, 39 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber.
What are the Health Benefits of Quinoa?
Quinoa is a complete protein, including all nine essential amino acids.
A cup of cooked quinoa offers 15 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power. Quinoa’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood.
For vegans, or those with lactose intolerance, quinoa is a good source of plant-derived calcium. Quinoa also contains impressive quantities of potassium, magnesium and zinc. Minerals that are crucial for heart, nerve and muscle function.
Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as other grains so it is a great internal cleanser. Plus it’s gluten free, for those people with sensitivities.
Fun facts and tips on using Quinoa
You can use any kind of quinoa (white – also sold as golden – red, or black) Quinoa can be us in breads, soups or other foods where grains are a primary ingredient. It can be used as the base for pilafs, cold salads, hot breakfast cereals, and more.
TIP: Make a big pot of quinoa on the weekend and figure out ways to use it all week. Add it to a salad; make it in to a veggie burger or meatloaf, quinoa stuffed peppers, or how about quinoa pancakes? Maybe add some grilled vegetables, curry and braised meat. Top it with tropical fruit and some sliced avocado for a fast lunch. This is one versatile food!
*One cup of dried quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked. Quinoa needs to be rinsed very well before cooking to avoid a bitter taste.
I hope you’re as excited to start using quinoa as I am–you won’t want to miss out on this weeks recipe—a crunchy and sweet Quinoa Salad using sweet potato, pine nuts, and dried cranberries.