Quinoa has wedged its way into our hearts and our bowls as our go-to mineral-rich protein source. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations actually declared it the official year of quinoa in 2013 and we’re still keeping the love alive.
What you should know: Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is an ancient grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Known as “the mother of all grains” to the Incas, this superfood has been a staple for millennia because it’s very nutritious and it’s quick and easy to grow and prepare. There are actually hundreds of varieties of quinoa, but the most commonly available types are white, red and black, all with a similar nutty flavor. Quinoa is actually not a grain at all – it is classified as a pseudocereal, a non-grassy plant that has similar properties to biologically classified grains. Nutritionally speaking, however, it is considered a whole grain in that we can consume the entire intact seed without removing any of its parts. Even its leaves are edible and taste similarly to other chenopod family veggies like spinach, chard and beets.
Why you should be eating it:Quinoa is known for its long list of nutrition and health benefits. It’s loaded with two times as much fiber (mostly soluble) than most grains, helping to reduce cravings, increase metabolism and reduce blood sugar and triglycerides levels. It’s also a wonderful source of protein. Just one cup of cooked quinoa supplies eight grams of protein and contains all essential amino acids, including lysine, not usually present in most grains. Quinoa also provides much higher levels of antioxidants than other grains due to its high flavonoid content of quercetin and kaempferol. These flavonoids also contribute to its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Another of quinoa’s appealing attributes is its high mineral content. Unlike many grains, quinoa is a good source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and iron, and contains B vitamins, vitamin E and essential fatty acids. However, like other grains, quinoa also contains phytic acids, which can bind to minerals and reduce their absorption rates. This can be remedied by soaking, sprouting and cooking, which will help to reduce the phytate levels of the grain. Like other members of the chenopod family, quinoa is also high in oxalates, which bind to calcium and can be problematic for people who are prone to kidney stones and other calcification issues.
Let’s get together:We’re assuming most have at least tasted quinoa, but for those that have never tasted this nutritious gluten-free superfood, cooked quinoa is fluffy, slightly crunchy and has a faint nutty flavor. Although our first instinct is to whip up a pot and throw into our favorite veggie bowl recipe, the possibilities are endless. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite Chalkboard recipes to help inspire you in the kitchen. Master the perfect pot of quinoa with our basic foolproof quinoa recipe at bottom too.
Late Winter Harvest Quinoa Bowl |
We may be over winter, but we’ll never tire of a good warming bowl of our favorite veggies, quinoa and a great dressing. It’s a nourishing salad of roasted veggies, all tossed in a creamy tahini dressing and sprinkled with almond “parmesan” cheese. It’s vegetarian comfort food at its best and will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied.
Quinoa Toast with Poached Egg and Spinach |
Gluten-free and settling for the store-bought frozen breads? No more! Grab this recipe and make your own quinoa bread. The slightly sweet flavor and light texture of the quinoa toast perfectly balances the bitterness of the greens, which together amplify the nourishing and buttery notes of the poached egg.
Crunchy Quinoa Granola with Mango Banana Smoothie Bowl |
More proof that nearly any recipe can be made using quinoa, this delicious granola is loaded with more than just this superfood. Paired with a creamy mango-banana smoothie, the combo creates the perfect breakfast bowl.
Gluten-Free Quinoa Tabouli |
We honestly don’t know why it’s taken so longer to make this easy swap of substituting quinoa for bulgar wheat! But the simple swap transforms this Middle Eastern staple into a delicious gluten-free meal loaded with all our favorite spices and fresh herbs.
Herbed Black Quinoa Muffins |
Grab a glass of green juice, freshly brewed coffee, and start your mornings with these herb quinoa muffins. Featuring sweet potato and seasoned with sage and thyme, these savory flavors create a welcome new spin on the morning classic.
Cranberry Quinoa & Vegetable Salad with Charred Salmon |
Pack in the superfoods with this incredibly nutritious salad. Salmon provides an extra healthy kick from its high omega 3 fatty acid content. You can also serve with chicken or make entirely vegan if you prefer.
Gluten-Free Yeast-Free Pizza Crust |
It’s certainly a challenge to find a gluten-free pizza, let alone one that’s made purely with whole grains. Just because you’re gluten-free does not mean you have to miss out on the taste of a truly great pizza pie.
Quinoa with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Superfood Pesto |
This quinoa dish is an easy sell for big crowds. It’s nutty taste makes it a perfect match for the recipe’s drool-worthy pesto, a tasty sauce with some very nutritious secrets.
Quinoa with Bordeaux Spinach, Cashew and Dried Fruit Salad |
This recipe for quinoa salad comes directly from award-winning vegan chef, Nicole Pederson. Loaded with all of our favorite seasonal fruits and perfectly paired with fresh spices, a balsamic vinaigrette and toasted cashews, this is a recipe to impress friends or a first date.
How to make the perfect pot of quinoa every time:
1 cup of raw, rinsed quinoa
2 cups of water
pinch of sea salt
The ratio of raw quinoa to water is 1:2 so if you’d like to prepare a larger batch, just adjust the ratio accordingly.
Quinoa contains a naturally bitter compound in its outer layer that acts as a natural pesticide. While most of this is likely removed in processing, quinoa should always be rinsed before using. Some also take the extra step of rubbing quinoa through their hands as they rinse.
Add desired one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
After the mixture is reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. One cup of quinoa usually takes about 15 minutes to prepare. When quinoa is ready, you will notice the grains have become somewhat translucent and the white germ has become somewhat detached, appearing as a little tails.