Quinoa, pronounced as ‘keen-wa’, is a relatively new grain in the Indian markets that is now gaining a lot of recognition. It is considered a whole grain but is actually a seed and can be cooked like other grains such as rice and barley. It is therefore called a pseudocereal (foods that are cooked and eaten like grains and have similar nutrient profile). Botanically speaking, it belongs to a family of spinach-like green leafy vegetables. There are more than 120 varieties of quinoa but white quinoa is most commonly cultivated and commercialized. It is a native of the Andes Mountains of South America. With a nut-like flavour, it has a texture that is fluffy.
Benefits of quinoa
- Quinoa is a no-fuss grain which can be easily cooked like rice and is ready in 10-15 minutes.
- It has its own nutty flavour which tastes great on its own with just a bit of salt and herbs, unlike many other grains.
- Its nutritional profile is quite superior. Among the chief benefits of quinoa is its high protein content (100gm uncooked quinoa provides 14 gm protein) and complete amino acid profile with all 9 essential amino acids which the body cannot produce and need to be obtained from food, making it a perfect high protein ingredient for vegetarians and vegans and the best proxy for meat
- It is also high in folate which helps in RBC formation and preventing neural tube defects in babies.
- It has a high content of minerals like iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.
- Quinoa is high in fibre compared to many other grains and provides 7 gm of fibre per 100 gm uncooked quinoa.
- It is gluten free and can be eaten by people with wheat and other gluten food allergies.
- It has small amounts of monounsaturated fats and is high in polyunsaturated fats which includes omega 6 and 3 and zero cholesterol as it is a plant-based food.