Quinoa… WHAT is it? Read on and you’ll be surprised!

Nutritional Value:½ c. Dry Quinoa

Calories: 318

Fat: 5g

Protein: 11g

Carbohydrates: 59g

Fiber: 5g

Have you ever heard of Quinoa?

In the last 5 years or so, I have been asked the same question over and over again “What in the WORLD is Quinoa?”  I figured since I am a nutritional coach to professional athletes, I must write an article on this amazing topic so I can inform everyone on how fabulous this food is.

Most people have never heard of this particular “super food” and if they have, they are probably eating it due to all of its great health benefits! Quinoa, pronounced (keen-wa) is often mistaken as a grain and has been around for THOUSANDS of years. Quinoa is actually a seed that is a distant relative of the spinach plant. It has an oval shape and is similar in size to millet. This awesome super-food has become more popular in the United States in the last 5 years than ever before and only started being harvested here in the USA since about 1980. The Quinoa plant thrives on poor soil and needs to grow in high mountain range climates.  Indigenous to the Andes Mountains in Ecuador (South America) this food was a staple for the Incas and known as the “Gold of the Incas” as it powered their warriors through long days at war.

Quinoa comes in varied colors, anything from yellow to red or even a dark brown or black can be found! If you cannot find this wonderful seed at your local supermarket, it should be available in your nearest health food store.

There are many benefits of eating Quinoa.

1)       It is a complete protein. This particular seed contains all of the 9 essential amino acids. This is not commonly found in most vegan foods … a COMPLETE protein source! In fact, there are 11 grams of protein in 1/2c. Dry Quinoa!

2)       Contains many antioxidants such as copper, magnesium, iron. These minerals aid in keeping free radicals from harming our bodies, but play other important roles as well. Magnesium assists in keeping the blood vessels dilated and relaxed, thus proving a GREAT choice for those with hypertension.

3)       Low Glycemic Index (35)  AND Moderate Glycemic Load (18)! This is a very slow absorbing complex carbohydrate. What this means is that having such low numbers means this food will not impact your pancreas to release insulin at a high rate. Your body will actually be able to stabilize your blood sugar for a longer period of time and on top of that, you’ll FEEL full! A great tool for those looking into weight loss!!!

4)       Can be eaten any time of day. Sometimes known as a pseudocereal or a pseudograin, this food can be enjoyed like an oatmeal or hot cereal,  or as a rice-type (some people like to make it like a pilaf) or even as a spread or dip for veggies or sandwiches like hummus! Once cooked, it has a fluffy, creamy and slightly crunchy texture with a ‘nutty’ flavor. Another BONUS to this food is that it cooks in a shorter time than rice! Stove top it will cook in about 12 minutes!

5)       Vegan friendly and Gluten-free. Most vegetarians are looking for a complete protein source and this is one of the few! It’s a great way to incorporate extra protein and healthy carbs into your diet.

There aren’t too many foods I URGE people to try. However, this is one of the few! If you can add something as healthy as Quinoa to your weekly foods… you will improve your quality of life and feel GREAT. Be sure to let us know how you like it on your BLOG!

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