I have been a nutrition counselor for over ten years and I have learned to not get excited when I hear about a new super food because the claims very rarely come even close to the foods actual attributes and more often then not, they are completely fabricated. Usually all you have to do with fad foods is wait a month or two and you will hear more negative information than positive. For this reason, when I heard the raving reviews about quinoa a few years ago I did not give it much thought. However, I kept hearing good things about the nutrition perks and virtually nothing bad.
After hearing so much about the benefits of quinoa, my wife and I recently purchased a pound of it from the bulk section of our local grocery store and headed home to give it a try. After doing a little research on how it is supposed to be cooked, I read extensively into quinoa nutritional information and was actually amazed by what I found.
Quinoa Nutrition Facts
Nutritionally speaking, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is quite literally a super food. It has an almost perfect ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, making it great for athletes or those looking to lose weight. The most impressive thing about the grain is that it has an amazingly complete protein, rivaling that of soybeans, making this one of the best sources of protein you can get from a plant source. So what does its nutrition look like?
1 Cup Cooked Quinoa
Calories – 222
Total Fat – 4g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Sodium – 13mg
Total Carbohydrates – 39g
Dietary Fiber – 5g
Protein – 8g
How to Cook it
Quinoa is easy to cook, as it is similar to how you cook rice or grits. Everyone cooks it slightly differently but here are the basic steps.
Pre-Soak the grain
Cover with water and let sit for 15 to 45 minutes (use hot water for a quick 15 minute soak, otherwise use cold water) then drain using cheesecloth. You can also sprout the seeds in as little as 2-4 hours to increase their nutritional content.
Put 1.25 to 2 cups water in a pot for every cup of soaked quinoa, depending on your desired texture (less water will make for a fluffier consistency). Bring the water to a boil and then add the soaked grain. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 45 min, depending on desired texture.
Cooking with Quinoa
It can be used as a direct substitute for rice, potatoes, or even pasta, as well as a healthier alternate “filler” in various other dishes. It has a slight nutty flavor and has a unique texture that is somewhat similar to a cross between brown rice and grits. Its flavor is strong enough that it can easily be left plain as a side and light enough that it can be used with any seasonings to complement a main dish or as part of a main dish. There are thousands of quinoa recipes online to choose from to give you other ideas on how to use this versatile and nutritious grain.
Though the texture may be a challenge for some to get used to, it is definitely a food that is worth adding to your diet. From the quinoa calories ratio to its vitamin and mineral content, this is about as close as it gets to a perfect food. It has been around for almost 5,000 years and was a staple in the Inca diet and is now being considered by NASA for long-duration manned space flights. You will only see the popularity of this super food increase as it gains more notoriety and becomes cheaper as it is produced in larger quantities.