Curious about Quinoa?

By: Health Local Staff Jun 29, 2011
  Article
Quinoa

If you haven't already, it's time you try Quinoa.

Quinoa may sound more like a secret East Asian martial art than something that you should be eating, but that is indeed what it is. To start with, Quinoa provides a nutrient rich alternative to rice, couscous and other grains. This is because it is not actually a member of the grass family, but rather, is more closely related to things like spinach and beets.

Nutritional Value
Part of the reason Quinoa has come to the forefront of grain replacements in the wake of the growing popularity of health food is that it packs an intense nutritional punch. Its protein content is through the roof. It is also a complete protein, meaning it contains just the right combination of essential amino acids for people. It is also a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.

It falls under its own special category of being a nutritional rock star. There is something in it for everyone. The high protein level makes it a good food for vegans and vegetarians, as well as the average omnivore. The high fiber level makes it good for folks older than 50. The iron level makes it good for women, as it is more common that we have iron deficiencies. It is a good alternative to things like rice, which is full of starch and simple carbohydrates, and pasta, which is also rather carb-tastic.

What Does it Taste Like?
Quinoa has a fluffy texture, most comparable to couscous or very short grain rice. It has a light, pleasant taste with a hint of nuttiness. Unprocessed Quinoa has a bitter tasting, mildly toxic coating - toxic only to the point of being an irritant the eyes and throat, not to the point of being dangerous at all.

This coating is called the saponins. This coating makes the Quinoa bitter and pretty much inedible. Most Quinoa that you will buy will have been processed to remove the coating, but in case it hasn’t here is how you remove it. To remove the saponins, you should soak the Quinoa in warm water for a few hours, and then rinse them under a running faucet in cheesecloth. This makes it tastier and more digestible.

A Tasty, Easy Quinoa Recipe: Quinoa Tabbouleh for 2

What you need: ½ cup Quinoa
Wet Ingredients: 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice
Vegetables/Fruits: 1 ½ diced tomatoes, ½ sliced cucumber, 1 grated carrot, 1 bunch diced green onions
Seasonings: ½ tsp sea salt (divided), ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions: Boil the water in a saucepan. Add the Quinoa and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes or until the Quinoa has absorbed the water.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, and fluff the Quinoa with a fork. Place the Quinoa in the fridge.

Then mix the other ingredients in a bowl until they are thoroughly mixed.  Take the mixture and pour it into the cold Quinoa.  Toss it until it is thoroughly coated and spiced.  Divide the Quinoa Tabbouleh into two servings… and you’re done!  This healthy yummy dish is only 350 calories and 15 grams of fat per serving. 

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.