You might have heard about this wonderful grain and, like me, have wondered how you pronounce it. “KEEN-wah” has become quite popular in the last few years and might even be seen as a super grain. In this post I will explain what makes quinoa so nutritious, tell you how to cook it and give some ideas on how to incorporate it into your meals.
Quinoa nutrition facts
Unlike other grains, quinoa is packed with protein and contains the essential amino acid lysine, which is uncommon in grains. Lysine is important in the synthesis of protein and plays a role in processes such as growth and development. Quinoa gives approximately 14 g protein per 100 g. The high protein content also makes it a perfect grain for vegetarians and vegans.
Quinoa is a whole grain, meaning it contains a lot of fibre, thus it will keep you fuller for longer. That might lead to smaller portion sizes and in return might assist with weight loss. It also has a low GI, making it ideal for blood sugar control. A 100 grams of quinoa provides about 7 g of fibre. Fibre has been proven to lower blood cholesterol levels, help relieve constipation, keeps you satisfied for longer and help regulate blood glucose levels.1
Quinoa contains important vitamins and minerals, like vitamin E, that acts as an anti-oxidant, meaning, it protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. It might also prevent heart disease. Quinoa also contains manganese and iron. Manganese plays a part in metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and protein and bone formation, while iron is part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, part of myoglobin which makes oxygen available for muscle contraction and plays a role in energy metabolism. Other minerals that are in quinoa is folate and magnesium. Folate plays a role in new cell formation and magnesium is important for muscle contraction, bone mineralization and teeth maintenance. Other anti-oxidants found in quinoa includes quercetin, reduces inflammation from allergies, inhibit tumour growth and protects the lungs, and kaempferol, which reduces the risk of chronic disease and inflammation.1
How to cook quinoa:
For 4 servings use 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water, for 2 servings use a ½ cup of quinoa with 1 cup water. Before cooking quinoa, rinse it thoroughly with water to wash away any bitter tasting saponins remaining after processing. Add the 1 cup water and bring to boil and add a pinch of salt, when the water starts boiling, turn down to medium heat and cook for 15 – 20 minutes. While it’s cooking add a little bit of water if needed. The quinoa is ready when it has become somewhat translucent and separate easily.
Ideas on how to incorporate quinoa in your diet:
- Swap it for rice or pasta, I love making mince with some stir fry veggies and then instead of dishing my delicious mince on pasta, I opt for quinoa, making it a high protein and fibre meal that keeps me satisfied for a long time.
- Add it to a salad, adding quinoa to a tuna or chicken salad is always a winner, or you could make a side salad with quinoa, tomatoes, some leafy greens, cucumber, feta cheese and drizzle some light salad dressing over for a tasty salad.
- Make it your breakfast, I’ve seen some recipes that use quinoa for a breakfast porridge, they even add some blueberries to the mix. This is a good idea if you like exercising in the morning and need a high protein breakfast to recover.
Check out this wonderful page from Damn Delicious to get 15 quinoa recipes.
- Whitney, E. & Rolfes, S.R. 2013. Understanding Nutrition. 13th ed. Wadsword, Cengage Learning: Belmont.