Quinoa: Benefits, Calories, How To Prepare And Cook Quinoa

If you have ventured into a health food store lately, you have probably come across a product known only as Quinoa.

Of course, this is nothing new, but a lot of people are just now learning about this ingredient because of the many benefits that it has.

Whether you are someone who is trying to stick to a gluten-free diet, or you are a vegetarian in search of a complete protein that is also low in calories, Quinoa might be the answer for you.

Is Quinoa A Grain?

Although most people think of Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) as just another grain that you can cook with, it is actually not a grain at all.

Officially it is known as a “pseudocereal” because it closely resembles a grain but is actually a seed that comes from a plant that is very similar to beets or spinach.

What Is Quinoa

That being said, many people choose to use this as a grain in their cooking. And it is commonly found in recipes that are designed for people who are trying to lead a gluten-free lifestyle.

Quinoa was traditionally eaten in the Andean region of South America (Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador), where it was grown as far back as several thousand years ago.

When the grain is harvested, it has a coating on it that needs to be removed. This coating, called “saponins”, is bitter to the taste. But once it is removed, quinoa has a slight nutty flavor and can be as light and fluffy as well-cooked rice.

Quinoa Calories And Nutrition Value

One of the reasons why Quinoa has long been such a popular food is because of its high nutritional value.

It has the same level of carbohydrates that you would find in most grains, but it is high in protein and is considered a complete protein by nutritionists.

If you were to get approximately 100 grams of Quinoa, cooked only in water, you would get the following nutrition:

  • Calories: 368
  • Carbohydrates: 64g
  • Dietary Fiber: 7g
  • Fat: 6g
  • Protein: 14g
In addition, quinoa contains Vitamin B1, B2, B6, and B9, as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.

So, when you compare the nutritional content of Quinoa to other grains or cereals, it has about the same number of calories but a lot more vitamins and minerals.

See Also: List Of Foods High in Potassium

Health Benefits Of Quinoa

When you hear the term “superfood”, you might think of the blueberry, the Acai berry, but the original superfood may well be Quinoa.

This seed has long been used as a primary form of nutrition in many civilizations. It was actually known as “the gold of the Incas” because of how powerful it was and how necessary it was to their way of life.

There are several different benefits to adding Quinoa to your diet.

Quinoa Gluten Free

For most people the primary benefit is that it replaces traditional grains, in particular processed wheat.

More and more people have become gluten-intolerant in recent years. And there is sufficient evidence to suggest that eliminating gluten from your diet can help you lose weight, eliminate pain and inflammation, and actually help with your mental state.

So, if you are looking for the easiest way to remove gluten from your life, then simply replace as much of it as you can with Quinoa.

Another reason why Quinoa is becoming more popular in the diets of children is because it is the perfect food for people who are allergic to grass (which includes wheat, of course).

Many childhood asthma cases are the result of grass allergies. And by feeding your child Quinoa instead of wheat-based foods, you might find that they have fewer attacks. The magnesium in this food will also enable your child to breathe easier, too.

Reduces Stress And Pain

If you are someone who suffers from a lot of stress, tension, pain, or migraine headaches, then Quinoa may actually help you out.

Quinoa contains a high percentage of your daily requirement of both Riboflavin and Magnesium, both of which can help to relax the blood vessels and ease the constriction that causes headaches.

Many lifelong migraine sufferers have found that the addition of Quinoa to their diet has reduced their dependence on over the counter or prescription medications.

Quinoa For Weight loss

To be honest, quinoa does not directly help you lose weight, but it greatly facilitates the weight loss process.

Rich in fiber and protein, quinoa is useful for maintaining satiety for a long time.

Protein and dietary fiber require more time to digest, so you avoid unnecessary snacking between meals. In addition, fiber supports gut health.

This is why people who want to lose weight use quinoa in their diet.

See Also: List of Foods High In Fiber

Other Quinoa Benefits

You might think that these benefits were more than enough for one small seed.

But the truth is that people who have gallstones have found relief by adding this to their diet.

Quinoa is also great for those who have diabetes. It is easier to digest than wheat and doesn’t tend to raise blood sugar so dramatically.

Quinoa is also known to lower cholesterol, so it is of benefit to people with heart disease.

And believe it or not, it can actually help to prevent cataracts when eaten on a long term basis.

How To Cook Quinoa?

Many cooks shy away from new foods because they just don’t feel comfortable experimenting with them. But if you can cook a pot of rice, you can cook Quinoa.

It is important that you rinse all Quinoa before you cook it, to ensure that it is clean but also to remove any saponin (the husk) that may be left behind.

Generally the Quinoa that you buy in stores will already have that removed, but it can still improve the taste to rinse it one more time.

How To Prepare Quinoa

As far as cooking Quinoa goes, you can simply boil it like you would rice, using one cup of Quinoa to two cups of rice. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.

Much like cooking pasta, you will need to decide just how well-cooked you like it, with some people liking it “al dente” or firm, while others like it fluffier and softer.

What you do with the Quinoa once it is cooked is completely up to you. You can use it in soups or stews, just like you would beans, rice, or vegetables.

Or you can also add traditional vegetables to it to make a kind of paella or pilaf.

Many people also choose to eat their Quinoa sweet rather than savory, by simply adding honey, yogurt, or berries to eat and making it a breakfast food.

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge Recipe

Porridge is a word that has never sounded too tasty to me. It has a touch of everything that made me eat as a child.

However, today, when you say porridge, I immediately think of all those wonderful variants with oatmeal that I really enjoy. And since I discovered Quinoa, my breakfast has become a feast.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked white quinoa
  • 2 cups milk
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 or 4 squares of dark chocolate

Preparation

Rinse the seeds thoroughly. Heat a small pan over medium heat. When it heats up, add the washed, drained quinoa and stir for 2-3 minutes for the water to evaporate.

Add milk and a pinch of salt and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and cook for 20-25 minutes without a lid, stirring occasionally.

It is necessary to simmer the mixture slightly during cooking, so if you notice that it has stopped boiling, increase the heat a little.

When the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa softens, remove from the heat and add cocoa powder, honey and vanilla. Stir to combine well and grate the dark chocolate over.

Try and adjust the taste as needed. Add extra milk if you prefer to be more gruel-like. I like to add more cocoa powder and honey for a more intense chocolate flavor.

This quinoa breakfast is best eaten while fresh. But if you make a larger amount, you can store the excess in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. When using it, just reheat it with the addition of milk to restore moisture.

Great option for a healthy breakfast, when you get bored of oatmeal.

Conclusion

There are few foods in this world that are nearly as versatile as Quinoa while also being extremely healthy for you.

Whether you are someone who is living gluten-free or you are just interested in boosting the nutritional content of your food and eating healthier Quinoa is the right choice.

The addition of Quinoa to your diet is one that will give you a lot of options and actually provide you and your family with some pretty delicious meals.

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