What is Quinoa?

How to Cook Quinoa
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World's Best Quinoa Recipes

What is quinoa?

Quinoa Plant

Quinoa Plant image
This picture is used with permission from Quinoa Corporation.
  • Quinoa is pronounced as KEEN-WAH
  • Quinoa is 100% whole grain and is close to being a perfect food source in the balance of nutrition it provides. Technically it's not a grain but the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach. Quinoa is an excellent source of protein - 12% to 18%. According to The National Academy of Sciences, quinoa is "one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom". Quinoa contains the amino acid lysine which helps the body produce protein. It also helps the body process the protein in the quinoa and in other foods. The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa to be equivalent or superior to that found in milk products.
  • Quinoa is a source of all essential amino acids according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. It's a great source of B vitamins containing niacin, thiamin and B6.It contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin. It's also good source of zinc, copper, and manganese, and magnesium. It contains folic acid and vitamin E.
  • Quinoa is a great food for people who must follow wheat-free/gluten-free diets because Quinoa doesn't contain gluten. Quinoa can be substituted for almost any other grain.
  • Quinoa has a nutty, smoky flavor and is less filling than other grains and pastas.
  • Quinoa has been one of the primary foods of the Inca Indians for more than 5,000 years. The Incas referred to Quinoa as "Mother Grain". Most quinoa is grown in the Andes in South America. Some quinoa is now being grown in the Colorado Rockies. The fact that quinoa will grow in extremely poor soil together with its great nutritional value makes it a true super grain to feed the world.
  • Quinoa seed are covered with bitter tasting saponins that naturally repel insects and birds. Removing the saponins is a somewhat involved process but is already done for you when you buy a quality brand like Ancient Harvest Quinoa. It's believed that the bitter tasting saponins are what discouraged the Spanish from using Quinoa.

Quinoa Grain

Quinoa Grain image
The ballpoint pen provides perspective of the grain's size.

How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa Cooked image
Note the white spiral that forms around Quinoa when it cooks. The seed becomes soft. The spiral remains crunchy giving Quinoa a unique character when you eat it.
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