By Mike Podesta

What is Quinoa?

If you’re a vegan, vegetarian or just trying to add more healthy whole foods to your diet, you may want to try quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). But what is Quinoa? While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed. It can be prepared like a whole grain such as rice. For those with gluten intolerance, it is gluten-free, helps lower cholesterol and is low in fat.

If you have watched an NFL game this season, you have probably seen this commercial poking fun at quinoa. I’ve never had a quinoa burger but that commercial sure doesn’t make them look appetizing.

For a better representation of quinoa, here is a picture of a quinoa dish we recently made. If interested, here is the quinoa we use – truRoots Organic Quinoa 100% Whole Grain Premium Quality 4 lbs Bag.

What is Quinoa?

Our quinoa dinner from last night.

It’s quinoa, steamed mixed vegetables and chicken. Quinoa tastes a lot like rice but has more of a nutritional value than rice. In this recipe we used chicken, but honestly, the quinoa and vegetables would have been fine on their own.
Meat products have become a staple for many meals because of its protein content. You may be surprised to learn quinoa is high in protein. It is a go-to solution for many vegans and vegetarians. It is a complete protein, meaning, it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that are crucial to human function and health. According to the USDA, one cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein. The recommended daily protein intake is about 56 grams for men, 46 for women.
As we stated above, quinoa is naturally low in fat. As a seed it does have a small amount. One cup of cooked quinoa has 3.6 grams of total fat. Compare that to cooked lean ground beef which provides 33 grams of fat. A cup of quinoa when cooked has 222 calories.

Quinoa Nutrition

Quinoa Nutrition Facts

Quinoa is also an excellent source of fiber and iron. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 15% of the recommended daily intake of iron, and 5 grams of fiber, which is 21% of the recommended amount. It is also rich in other minerals such as calcium (31.5 mg), magnesium (118 mg) and potassium (318 mg). As you can see, there are many quinoa benefits.

Now that we’ve answered, ‘what is quinoa?’ you probably want to know how to cook it. You would cook it exactly as you would brown rice. For example if you were cooking one cup of dry quinoa you would want to add two cups of water. It usually takes about twenty minutes to fully cook once the water comes to a boil. Be careful not to overcook it, as it can become soft and lose its shape. The flavor also will suffer if it is overcooked.

As mentioned above, quinoa goes well with steamed vegetables. Cook it in low sodium chicken broth instead of water to add flavor. There is so much more you can do with quinoa than just making it a substitute for rice. There is quinoa pasta, or you can add it to a salad or your favorite Mexican dish. Bake it until it’s a golden brown and have quinoa cereal. Mix in your favorite fruit for an even healthier morning meal.

After reading this, are you tempted to give quinoa a try? Have a favorite quinoa dish? Let us know!