Quinoa: The Super Grain (Kind of)

It is one of our most repeated mantras: avoid grains like wheat and corn. They are one of the worst things to eat in the Standard American Diet. However, we can’t stop singing praise about quinoa. Quinoa is a seed and a great alternative to grain.  It is high in complete protein, has great fiber, is gluten-free and loaded with essential nutrients.

Quinoa is now on center stage, and restaurants and grocery stores sings its praises.  It is a great substitute for rice and wheat, a satisfying lunch pilaf, makes tremendous stuffing for dinner and is even a healthy breakfast addition to your diet.

Quite the Quinoa

Quinoa has actually been around for ages. It was commonly relied on to nourish the Native South Americans in Chili, Peru and Bolivia, as well as a the Incas. In fact, the Incas actually made the seed sacred and called it the “mother of all grains.”  Unfortunately, the Spanish conquerers disbelieved the power of the quinoa to nourish and instead enforced growing crops of corn rather than quinoa, banning the quinoa seed from being cultivated.

Thankfully, a few Americans discovered the power of quinoa, put the super seeds in the ground and grew a crop.  This started a new era in America were quinoa found super status a healthy alternative to grain.

While quinoa is often called a grain, it is actually a seed and a member of the same family as beets, chard, and spinach. These little nutty tasting seeds are actually full of nutrition and rich in amino acids.

Quinoa Nutrition 

One beautiful benefit of quinoa is its very good low glycemic carbohydrate source.  It is also rich with following vitamins and minerals:

  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin E
  • Several B vitamins

One of the best qualities of quinoa is the value of its protein. Quinoa contains an almost perfect balance of all 8 essential amino acids your body needs as building blocks for protein.  It also contains high amount of lysine, cystine and methionine amino acids, which are typically lacking in traditional grains.  Because of this, quinoa is a great complement to legumes, which are usually low in methionine and cystine. In general, quinoa can be considered nutritionally superior to most grains because of its protein quality.

Choose quinoa over grains like wheat and corn, which contain detrimental anti-nutrients. Plus, quinoa is gluten-free!

Cooking with Quinoa

There are so many ways to prepare tasty and nutritious quinoa. Quinoa can be cooked in about 15 minutes and a great addition to: casseroles, soups, stews, pilafs, stir-fries or in a cold salad. Here are a few tips for cooking and preparing quinoa.

  1. Anywhere rice is used, you can replace with quinoa.  This boosts the nutritious value of your meal because quinoa adds protein and fiber to many dishes. One  tip is roasting quinoa in a pan or oven to add a nutty flavor. Or, cook quinoa in free-range chicken broth for added flavor to your dinner.
  2. Quinoa is also a tasty addition to salads. Simply add cooked quinoa to your favorite chopped veggies.  Personally, I love eating quinoa with tomatoes, zucchini, onion, garlic parsley and drizzled with olive oil. Then, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice with some sea salt. This quinoa salad tastes so nutritious going down!
  3. Breakfast is an ideal time as any to eat quinoa! Replace your oatmeal with quinoa, then add fruit, nuts and your favorite spices (cinnamon!). If you like something sweet for breakfast, add stevia to your quinoa “oatmeal.” Quinoa is high in protein, but add a side of egg for additional protein and fats.  Now, you have a completely perfect nutritious and balanced fat-burning breakfast!
  4. Quinoa seeds can be sprouted and eaten as raw, live food for snacks or in salads and sandwiches. To sprout the seeds, soak about 1/3 cup seeds in a jar for 2 to 4 hours, then drain and rinse the seeds twice a day for 2 to 4 days. When the sprouts are about 1 inch long, place them near a window which will give them a vibrant green color. Another fascinating way of using quinoa is to “pop” the seeds in a dry skillet and eat them as a dry cereal.

Baking with Quinoa 

You can buy or make quinoa flour, which is far more nutritional than wheat flour.  It can replace wheat flour in most baking recipes.

For an amazing blend that is low in starch, high in fiber and high in protein, try this combo: quinoa flour, almond flour and coconut flour.  This 3-in-1 combo flour is gluten-free and absolutely delicious in baked goods like banana bread, zucchini bread, carrot cake and muffins.

People everywhere are discovering the benefits of quinoa, a delicious alternative to grain that is easy to digest, full of high quality protein and fiber, and can form the basis for delicious meals. Give quinoa a place on your table and diet! You’ll be healthier for it!


fat burning kitchenIf you haven’t read our Fat Burning Kitchen program yet, click here to start eliminating your junk food cravings and controlling your appetite permanently.

by Catherine Ebeling, RN, BSN & Mike Geary – Certified Nutrition Specialist, co-authors – The Fat Burning KitchenYour 24-Hour Diet Transformation to Make Your Body a Fat-Burning Machine


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