Quinoa Nutrition Facts
- QUINOA is becoming increasingly popular as an everyday food on the dining tables of all kinds of modern families in a variety of cultural settings. No longer limited to a few similar recipes, it can be found in more than just basic breakfast cereals and side salads. In the last few years, we have seen quinoa in everything from our lunch salads, dinner entrées, double-layer cakes, pasta, muffins, soups, bakery bread, and smoothies—even our shampoo. “Made with quinoa” is a phrase we are seeing more often as this ancient grain becomes mainstream.
- This tiny seed, more than five thousand years old, was once hidden away in the high Andes Mountains of South America, but today it is being included in an increasing number of North American meals, not only pushing aside rice and couscous but sometimes even replacing meat. In 2011, imports of quinoa to the United States increased by an astonishing 39 percent from the previous year. This popularity is the result both of quinoa’s versatility in cooking and of the incredible health properties of this superfood.
- As a superfood, quinoa boasts an array of exceptional properties even beyond a stellar nutritional profile. For starters, it is vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free and a complete protein. It can help prevent disease, encourage the body to heal and provide vitamins and minerals that nourish. While other superfoods exist, even some with tremendous qualities that may seem comparable, none offers a similar nutritional profile. As well, quinoa is by far the most versatile. It can be used in almost any dish, whereas other superfoods may find a place in only a select number of recipes. Not all superfoods are as adaptable to everyday menus and lifestyles.
Vitamin & Mineral Content
Quinoa is a good source of minerals such as iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and potassium. It is also rich in vitamins such as vitamin E, Riboflavin and folic acid.
Image credit: QuinoaestaBakery
An ideal non-animal protein source for vegetarians, 1 cup (250 mL) of cooked quinoa provides approximately the same amount of protein as a whole egg. Plus, quinoa’s versatility in the kitchen means that vegetarians can find many creative ways to enjoy this protein-rich food.
Quinoa is a complete protein—in other words, it contains all eight essential amino acids. Nothing else needs to be combined with quinoa in order for the body to digest and efficiently use quinoa’s energy, vitamins and minerals. Hence, quinoa’s high digestibility and protein content allow the muscles to effectively make use of available protein and quickly rebuild lean muscle.
A NOTE ON NUTRITIONAL VALUES
Nutritional values in this book are always based on the first option provided in the recipe. For instance, if the ingredient option is “vegetable or chicken stock,” the nutritional values provided are based on vegetable stock. Also, optional ingredients are not included in the nutritional values. For lower-cholesterol diets, we have provided reduced-cholesterol options for eggs in the recipes along with the normal egg count. For example, a recipe may call for “2 large eggs + 4 large egg whites (or 4 eggs total),” meaning that if you are not on a low-cholesterol diet, you may simply use 4 whole eggs.
WEIGHT LOSS, HEALTH & FITNESS
Quinoa can assist with weight loss. A complex carbohydrate, quinoa does not quickly convert sugars to fats, thus providing an effective long-term energy source. Lower glycemic index foods such as quinoa take longer to digest and, as a result, do not promote the spike of insulin levels in the blood that triggers the body to store fat. The complete chemistry was not likely known by the ancient Incas, who worshipped quinoa, but we now know that quinoa can help make us healthy, make us strong and help us reach and maintain personal health and nutritional goals.
- Quinoa is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Cooked, it makes a great key ingredient in soups, salads, entrées, baked goods, desserts, breakfast cereal and even baby food. Used raw, quinoa seeds can be ground or sprouted and used in salads, sandwiches or breakfast smoothies, making it especially popular with people who follow a raw food diet.
- Quinoa flour is a smart alternative to many flours that contain gluten or have inferior nutritional profiles. It can be used to improve moistness and can be used alongside other flours. A blend of quinoa flour (or cooked seeds) and a wheat flour, for example, will absorb and hold liquid. This is especially useful in baked goods, where the increased moisture helps to produce a fluffy, soft texture. Various combinations of quinoa flour with other flours such as rice, tapioca, almond, coconut and potato starch allow you to create impressive recipes that meet your specific nutritional requirements and invent new fusions of delightfully complex flavors. Quinoa’s easily adaptable flavor is also what adds to its versatility. It is complemented by an endless range of flavors, from vegetables, fruits and meats to simple foods such as butter or toasted ingredients. For example, toasted quinoa flour has an incredible affinity with butter in baked shortbread.
- Quinoa seeds and flour can also be used as a thickener. In soups, quinoa seeds added whole to the stock or cooked and then puréed with the stock produce a thick soup that could be mistaken for a heavy cream soup in texture, and without the added fat and calories. Quinoa seeds can also improve the texture of otherwise ordinary dishes, adding dimension and character.
- Quinoa flakes are widely available and can be used as a breakfast cereal, a coating for meats and vegetables, and in baking or as a dessert ingredient.
Less common than regular quinoa but growing in popularity is baby quinoa. Also known as kaniwa or kañawa, baby quinoa is an even smaller seed closely related to quinoa. In South America, it grows around Lake Titicaca, in both Peru and Bolivia. Baby quinoa contains no saponin, a break for those who are sensitive to any bitter saponin flavor and dedicated to rinsing their quinoa. This tiny red seed tastes milder and sweeter than regular quinoa but contains even more protein and fiber. It is great sprouted or cooked together with regular white quinoa. Baby quinoa and regular quinoa cook just the same, 2 cups (500 mL) of water to 1 cup (250 mL) of seeds.