What’s So Good About… Quinoa?

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)
a.k.a. quinua or kinwa
Pronounced “keen-wa” 

Gluten-free-ians, vegetarians and vegans will often go on about quinoa being a super food. I love its taste and have used it to replace wheat in lots of dishes… so thought it was time to do some research.

Quinoa a “pseudocereal” rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. It is actually closely related to species such as beets, spinach AND tumbleweeds!

Quinoa originated in the Andes in Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was successfully used for human consumption 3,000 to 4,000 years ago (although there is some evidence that it was used to feed pastoral animals 5,200 to 7,000 years ago)… hence why it’s known as an ‘ancient grain’. The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as the ‘mother of all grains’ and the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season.

How does it help?
Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is ‘complete protein’, it includes all nine essential amino acids. It especially has amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.
Quinoa also contains a wealth of other health-building nutrients including magnesium, iron, folate and phosphorus PLUS it is a good source of fibre.
There are so many health benefits to eating quinoa… do an internet search to find out more!

What’s the difference between red and white quinoa?
Cooked red quinoa holds its shape better than white quinoa which becomes much softer. Red quinoa also tends to have a flavour that is described as stronger, “earthier” and more “nutty” that the standard variety. Once cooked, red quinoa becomes browner in colour.

Red Quinoa is said to abound in vitamin E and calcium. On the other hand white quinoa is said to abound in vitamin B and phosphorous.

Vegematarian recipes:
> Tabouli with Quinoa – http://vegematarian.com.au/2012/02/12/quinoa-gluten-free-tabouleh/
> Tahini and Quinoa Salad – http://vegematarian.com.au/2012/02/12/tahini-and-quinoa-salad/
> Carolyn’s Quinoa and Roast Vegetable Salad – http://vegematarian.com.au/2012/02/05/carolyns-quinoa-and-roast-veggie-salad/
> Moroccan Quinoa – http://vegematarian.com.au/2011/11/01/moroccan-quinoa/
> Vegetable Quinoa Stew – http://vegematarian.com.au/2010/06/03/vegetable-quinoa-stew/> Vegetable Quinoa Couscous – http://vegematarian.com.au/2010/01/26/vegetable-couscous/

What’s your favourite quinoa recipe? Feel free to make a comment below.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Delia says:

    Hi Kirsty! No wonder you’re so enthusiastic about quinoa, it’s so good… I also love it -its taste, it’s texture, its nutritional value… 🙂 I’ve never come across the red variety, though. I use the white one in different ways: in cous-cous (like you), in vegetable lentil stew (delicious!), in veggie burguers, or soup. I’ve published some of these in my blog:


    Both have turned out to be very popular. Wanna have a look? There’s a translating gadget there if you’re interested but if still in doubt after using it -automatic translators are far from perfect 😐 -, just let me know. 🙂

    1. vegematarian says:

      Hi Delia. Thanks for the recipe links. I encourage everyone to take a look – awesome!
      The red variety is becoming really popular in Australian and you can now get it at most health food shops and even supermarkets. It’s a bit nuttier than the white.

  2. Reblogged this on Picky Eater Confessions and commented:
    I have gotten fairly lazy with my eating lately, so it is time to pick things up again.
    My first new adventure is going to be quinoa. I have heard nothing but good things about it. Savory or Sweet….there is a place for it in every meal.

    1. vegematarian says:

      Thanks for the reblog, Heather. Loving the thoughts on your blog too 🙂

  3. Paula says:

    this is not a brassica it comes from the family Amaranthaceae

    1. vegematarian says:

      Thanks for picking up on my error, Paula 🙂

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