7 October 2016
You see it on the supermarket shelve and hash tags on your Instagram feed but what is Quinoa? Read what is actually in this superfood, the benefits of eating it and how to cook it.

Pronounced generally as Keen-wah, Quinoa is a grain crop, grown for its edible seeds; the leaves are also edible but are not widely available.

Although it is relatively new on our supermarket shelves, as a ‘superfood’ it has been consumed in its native South America for thousands of years. The Inca Emperor used to sow the first grains using golden implements and the Inca people referred to it as the mother of all grains.

Because it is easy to grow, easy to prepare and has a high nutrient content NASA has been considering it as a food to be grown in outer space!

Now that it is widely available, especially in health food shops, many people are beginning to use it in their diet – it can be made into a nice porridge, used as a base for a salad or just eaten as is.

The nutritional facts & figures:

1 cup, (185 grams) of cooked Quinoa will give you:

  • 8 grams of protein

  • 5 grams of fibre

  • 39 grams of carbohydrates

  • 4 grams of fat

On top of that it contains:

  • 58% of the RDA of Manganese

  • 30% of the RDA of Magnesium

  • 28% of the RDA of Phosphorus

  • 19% of the RDA of Folate

  • 18% of the RDA of Copper

  • 15% of the RDA of Iron

  • 13% of the RDA of Zinc

  • 9% of the RDA of Potassium

  • Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6

  • Small amounts of Calcium, B3, (niacin) and vitamin E

  • A small amount of Omega-3 fatty acids

And there’s more:

  • Contains flavonoids which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies

  • Naturally gluten-free

  • A “complete protein”, this is because it contains all nine essential amino acids – these cannot be produced by our bodies and we have to get them from our diet. Quinoa is high in protein compared with most plant foods and is therefore a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Considered as Low GI which is good for blood sugar control, and releases its energy slowly

To prepare basic Quinoa:

  • Quinoa is very easy to prepare and incorporate into your diet. It is a good idea to rinse it before use as the outer layer contains saponins which can have a bitter, soapy flavour; although branded Quinoa should have been rinsed already.
  • Boil in water with a pinch of salt for 15 – 20 minutes, it should absorb most of the water and have puffed up; it will have a mild nutty flavour, and be a little crunchy.

  • There are many recipes for using Quinoa, both sweet and savoury. Have a look at Deliciously Ella.