What is Quinoa and Why Should I Eat It?

What is Quinoa?

Perhaps you’ve heard family or friends talking about interesting health foods they are eating and *quinoa came up. What is quinoa you wondered? Quinoa is actually a seed but is often thought of as a grain due to its’ grain like similarities. Quinoa can be cooked, prepared and served just like a grain. This grain imitator originated with the Incas in South America thousands of years ago. Quinoa comes from the oddly named goosefoot plant named for the leaves of the plant resembling the foot of a goose.

Why Should I Eat Quinoa?

There are so many reasons to add this natural food to your grocery list. It is easily found at your favorite health food store, usually in the organic foods section. Quinoa is very nutritious. It supplies your body with all nine of the essential amino acids, only competing with soy for a vegetarian/vegan source of a complete protein. Essential amino acids must be supplied through the foods we eat. The body cannot produce them. Quinoa has an amino acid score of 106. This score rates the protein quality of a food. A complete or high quality protein will have a score of 100 or higher.

So, we know there’s a lot of quality protein in quinoa but what about what’s not in quinoa? Quinoa is free of cholesterol and gluten, and virtually free of sodium. It is also low in fat. This makes it an excellent choice for those with hypertension, heart problems and/or food sensitivities.

What good things are in quinoa? Quinoa is a great source of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It is also provides a small amount of calcium. Quinoa is a good source of four of the eight B vitamins, as well as iron, potassium, zinc and copper. It is a great source of magnesium and phosphorus and an excellent source of manganese.

This health food is obviously good for me but does it taste good? Yes! It has a mild nutty flavor quite unlike anything else. It is unique and delicious.

How Should I Eat (Prepare) Quinoa?

Quinoa can be found in the form of flakes, puffed cereal, pasta elbows, flour, grain and crackers. It can be prepared in your rice cooker, on your stovetop or in the microwave. Flakes are used for hot cereal which can be dressed up just like oatmeal. Add your fruit, nuts and plant-based milk for a breakfast that will keep you going until lunchtime. Enjoy the puffed cereal the same way you enjoy any other cold cereal; add bananas and your choice of milk.

What should you do with the pasta elbows? Serve them up the same way you would serve regular pasta. Top with your favorite sauce, add salad and bread and prepare to be satisfied! Use the elbows to make macaroni and “cheese” too!

Baking with quinoa flour is a valuable resource for those of us with a gluten intolerance or for anyone who wants to reduce the amount of gluten in their lives. Quinoa flour is suitable for baking bread, cookies and cakes. The flour can be used alone or added to other gluten-free grains for delicious gluten-free treats containing a lot of added nutrition. When you’re on the go, Mary’s Gone Crackers are convenient snacks which combine quinoa with other healthy ingredients.

The quinoa disguised as a grain can be prepared like any other rice or grain dish. Vegetables and nuts are a great complement. Choose quinoa when you want something other than the same old thing for dinner. Surprise guests with a new dish or take it for a potluck.

Quinoa is an easy, versatile addition to anyone’s lifestyle that can’t be beat. Try it once and you will be hooked.

*Pronounced “keen-wa”