Quinoa is a pseudograin, meaning that it is not actually a grain like wheat or rice. It has got a great nutty taste, and it can be a healthy addition to your diet. Let’s take a look at its nutritional value and share some general quinoa tips :
- Quinoa is a flowering plant in the amaranth family. The edible part is actually the seed of the plant!
- It originates from the Andes and has been part of the diet of the people of Peru and Bolivia for 3-4 thousand years.
- It makes a great substitution for wheat, barley and rye for people who follow a gluten free diet. It’s a great meal addition for people with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity.
- Quinoa is high in protein compared to other cereals and rice. 1 cup of cooked quinoa offers 8.1 grams of protein compared to 4.2 grams of protein in rice. Saying that, with a little quinoa in your salad you cannot meet your daily protein needs. Adults need 1 gr. of protein per kg of healthy weight (an average woman needs 55-65 grams of protein per day and an average man might need 75-85 grams of protein per day).
- For those who watch their calorie intake it is good to know that 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 222 calories.
- Cooked quinoa is a relatively good source of fiber, the majority of which is insoluble fibers that reduce diabetes risk and may be fermented in the gut, feeding your friendly bacteria and promoting overall good health.
- Quinoa also contains saponins, which are plant glycosides that protect the plant from insects and other threats. Saponins are bitter and they can be eliminated by soaking and washing your quinoa well before cooking.
- Tips for cooking quinoa: Rinse the quinoa under cold running water to remove its bitter flavour. Tip into a pan and add double the amount of salted water. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender and the liquid is absorbed.
- You can combine quinoa with almost everything. Keep some leftover quinoa in the fridge and add it to your salads, use as a filler in veggie burgers or use it as a base for roasted veggies or roasted fish or chicken.
- Add the dressing while it’s still hot. Combine with lime or lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and a little sea salt and black pepper, and you’ve got the foundations for a delicious meal. Quinoa is also delicious with a vinaigrette sauce (mix together extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and some Mediterranean herbs like dried thyme, oregano and rosemary).
Dietitian / Nutritionist
M.Sc. Nutritional Medicine