Quinoa has gained popularity as a health food in the United States and other Westernized countries, though people have been cultivating it in South America since ancient times (1 Trusted Source). Quinoa is actually an edible seed from a grain crop species known as Chenopodium, originating in the Andean region of northern South America. Although harvested from a grain crop, it is not considered a cereal but rather a pseudo-cereal and closely related to beetroot and spinach.
In fact, hundreds of years ago, the Inca people considered this ancient grain a sacred food.
In the past couple of decades, quinoa’s popularity has grown exponentially as the demand for easy-to-grow, nutritious, gluten-free grain alternatives has soared.
Not only is quinoa nutrient-dense, but it may offer health benefits, too. Nutrient-dense and gluten-free Quinoa seeds have taken the fitness world by storm! During weight loss, you’re counting every calorie and opting for healthier choices, so Quinoa seeds can be perfect for you.
Types of Quinoa
It is the most common and cheaper sold in many supermarkets. It has a mild, nutty taste and contains the lowest fat. Suitable for both hearty and sweet dishes. Cooking time is 10 to 15 minutes.
It is similar to black quinoa. Cooking takes a bit longer. It is commonly used in salads or in risotto because it keeps its shape and looks nice.
It takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook. It has an intense taste and is best used with oven-cooked vegetables or tossed with salads.
It is the popcorn of the Incas and like quinoa flakes, mainly used as a cereal ingredient.
In terms of nutritional value, colors don’t play a major role but the darker variants contain higher concentrations of antioxidants. You can mix three varieties in one dish to pack on the flavor and nutrients! From soft to mild and nutty, a good mix and great alternative to classic dishes such as rice, potatoes or pasta. Quinoa is great for people with gluten intolerance, vegan, or for those who want a healthier alternative.
Rich in Fiber
Quinoa contains 10-15% of digestive fiber. This might reduce blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels. Quinoa fiber is 80%-90% non-soluble fiber.
Packed with nutrients and proteins
There are nutrients our bodies cannot produce themselves. We have to get these from food. If not, we suffer from a lack of nutrients resulting in improper body functions and processes. Quinoa is a good source of a number of important nutrients, including folate, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Rich in Antioxidants
Quinoa contains quercetin, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. By including nutritious foods like quinoa in your diet, you will significantly increase your total intake of these and other antioxidant compounds.
5 things to do with quinoa
- Eat quinoa like a hot cereal. Just add milk or fortified soy beverage to leftover quinoa. You can also cook quinoa in milk or fortified soy beverage. Top it with: cranberries, raisons, fresh or unsweetened canned fruit, toasted nuts or seeds. For added sweetness, stir in a little cinnamon, vanilla extract or maple syrup.
- Serve quinoa as a side dish. Enjoy it plain or dress it up. Try: sautéed mushrooms, leftover vegetables, diced cooked sweet potato, frozen green peas or shelled edamame (green soy beans).
- Use quinoa as a base for a salad meal. Add any of: lean meats, skinless chicken, low-sodium canned beans, salmon or tofu and vegetables on hand. Mix in a little of your favorite oil and vinegar dressing. Top with grated low-fat cheese or low-sodium feta, toasted nuts or seeds, dried cranberries or raisins. Add cooked quinoa to your next frittata. It’s a great way to use up small amounts of leftover quinoa.
- Add quinoa to soups. It makes for a heartier soup.
- Uncooked quinoa will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry place (like a cupboard) for up to one year.
- Cooked quinoa will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. You can also freeze quinoa for up to a month.
Quinoa is becoming more popular in Western countries, but people in South America have eaten this ancient grain for thousands of years. It’s technically a seed and is considered part of a small group of grains called pseudocereals, along with amaranth and buckwheat.
You can enjoy quinoa any time of day. You can cook it in bulk and store it in the fridge for easy meal prep, too. If you cook with quinoa, Share the recipe with us on ‘Submit your Recipe’ section. We’d love to hear them.