QUINOA: SUPERFOOD PLANT PROTEIN
What is it?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is the common name for Chenopodium Quinoa, a member of the flowering plant family Amaranthaceae. It is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal or pseudograin rather than a true cereal, as it is not a grass. In other words, it is basically a “seed” which is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain
What can I do with it ?
Quinoa is very easy to incorporate into your diet. It is tasty and goes well with a very large variety of foods, from salads and vegetables to meat dishes. You can even grind it into flour and use it in baking.
It is particularly useful for those who pursue lifestyles which avoid gluten and grains. Using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free breads and pastas may significantly reduce blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels.
It can be eaten warm with a very large variety of dishes including stews, grilled meats, fish or grilled vegetables. Also very nice in cold salads and meat dishes.
What could it do for me?
Quinoa is one of the world’s most popular health foods. It has been consumed for thousands of years in South America, although it only fairly recently became trendy and reached “superfood status”.
Quinoa is non-GMO, gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
How do I prepare it?
Quinoa is easy to prepare on the stove or in the microwave.
Cook or microwave each cup of quinoa with at least 1 and a half cups of water and a pinch of salt. The water should be boiled and then added to the quinoa while stirring. Cover with a lid and microwave on high for around 4 minutes, stir and then microwave for another 3 to 4 minutes. If in doubt as to whether it is cooked, do not microwave but leave in the microwave oven to simmer.
On the stove, bring the mix to the boil and then simmer for around 20 minutes until soft and fluffy.
What can I substitute ?
The closest substitute is amaranth.
How do I store it?
Keep in an airtight container away from moisture. In the freezer it will keep for many months.
Studies have shown that by using naturally gluten free quinoa instead of typical gluten-free ingredients like refined starches such as tapioca, potato, corn and rice flour, it can dramatically increase the nutrient and antioxidant value of the diet.
Unlike most plants, quinoa contains all the essential amino acids. It is therefore regarded as an excellent source of “complete” protein. It has both more and better protein than most grains.
With 8 grams of quality protein per cup, quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
One study that looked at 4 varieties of quinoa found a range of between 10 and 16 grams of fiber, per every 100 grams. This equals 17-27 grams per cup, more than twice as high as most grains. Boiled quinoa contains much less fiber, gram for gram, because it absorbs so much water.
Most of the fiber is insoluble fiber, which doesn’t appear to have the same health benefits as soluble fiber. The soluble fiber content is about 2.5 grams per cup (or 1.5 grams per 100 grams), which is still decent.
There are numerous studies showing that soluble fiber can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss (12, 13, 14).
Bottom Line: Quinoa is much higher in fiber than most grains.
The glycemic index of quinoa is around 53, which is considered low. However, it is still relatively high in carbohydrates. On LCHF lifestyle limit your intake or even avoid it.
Quinoa is very high in minerals, especially magnesium, potassium, zinc and (for women) iron. It however also contains some phytic acid which can partly prevent them from being absorbed. Soaking or sprouting degrades most of the phytic acid. Soaking for several hours in water with a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar is strongly advised before cooking. Doing so will also yield a fluffier and lighter cooked quinoa.
This is the nutrient content in 1 cup (185 grams).
This applies to cooked quinoa (2):
Protein: 8 grams.
Fiber: 5 grams.
Manganese: 58% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
Folate: 19% of the RDA.
Copper: 18% of the RDA.
Iron: 15% of the RDA.
Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.
This is coming with a total of 222 calories, with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. It also contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids.