What is Quinoa?
Well, the mystery is solved: Quinoa is pronounced ‘keen-wah’. It comes from South America, and while it is commonly referred to as a grain it is actually a seed. It is a “pseudo grain” or “pseudo cereal” because it is not actually a member of the grass family. You will see it in red, gold and black varieties, and they all pretty much taste the same. Now let’s talk about all of its nutritional goodness!
Quinoa is a considered a “superfood“. The Oxford Dictionary definition states a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. According to many sources, quinoa is considered a very good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and vitamin E. It is lower in carbohydrates than many grains, and because the carbohydrates are slow-releasing it is identified as having a low glycemic index, which means the glucose is released more slowly and steadily, helping to maintain blood sugar levels. Another upside to quinoa is that it is gluten-free. You can read an interesting article on celiac.org about research done recently to determine if the proteins in quinoa are similar enough to gluten to trigger the immune system of those patients with celiac disease. One of my favorite things about quinoa is that it is a great source of plant-based protein and the icing on the cake is that it is a complete or “perfect” protein. A complete protein consists of an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans. Therefore, it doesn’t require pairing with other proteins to be complete. Basically, it’s perfect all by its lonesome.
I found the flavor of quinoa to be light and nutty, though some people think it is rather bland. It is similar overall to rice or couscous. Quinoa can either be puffed like rice or couscous or popped and added to salads and other dishes for a crunchy, nutty flavor. To learn how to prepare quinoa see my post here.