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Have you heard of quinoa? This superfood is one of the world’s most popular health foods.
First, let’s get the name right, for this seed that’s often referred to as a grain.
Quinoa is pronounced “KEEN-wah”. And there are many excellent reasons to include quinoa in your diet.
Need encouragement? Check out these quinoa health benefits and recipes.
Quinoa Nutritional Facts
Quinoa is grown as a grain crop although technically, it’s a seed. The Inca considered quinoa an important crop, calling it the “mother of all grains”. In South America, quinoa has been eaten for thousands of years. Only recently has the superfood become a trend in the US.
Quinoa comes in three varieties: red, white and black. It is gluten free, high in protein and one of the few plant based foods that provides all nine essential amino acids that the body needs.
Additionally, quinoa is high in fiber, magnesium, vitamins B and E, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and antioxidants.
Quinoa’s antioxidants help calm inflammation throughout the body and provide anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-depressant properties.
NASA considers quinoa a suitable crop to grow in space, due to its high nutritional content, ease of growing and its simple preparation methods.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
These important health benefits help give quinoa its superfood status:
- gluten free means quinoa won’t cause symptoms that those with gluten sensitivities experience such as rashes and digestive disorders
- provides all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own
- excellent source of protein, especially beneficial for those on a plant based diet One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8.14 grams of protein.
- low glycemic index, meaning it does not quickly raise blood sugar levels
- improves metabolic health by reducing insulin and triglyceride levels
- high fiber content reduces the risks for constipation, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diverticulosis
- promotes a healthy weight. High fiber foods help people feel full longer
- vitamin E content helps reduce the risk for heart disease, eye disorders and certain types of cancer
- high iron content supports blood health, energy and cell function, connective tissue health and muscle metabolism
- B vitamin folate promotes healthy pregnancies and reduces the risks of certain cancers and depression
Adding Quinoa to the Diet
Quinoa is easy to prepare and simple to add to meals.
Prepare quinoa by combining two cups of water with one cup of uncooked quinoa in a sauce pan. Always use a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave quinoa covered for five more minutes. Remove cover and fluff quinoa with a fork.
Or prepare quinoa in recipes.
Check out what I made this week, all from one box of dried quinoa.
Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos
This simple to prepare recipe yielded yummy, meatless tacos. While the quinoa and black bean filling simmered, I chopped toppings for the tacos: tomatoes, mixed greens, red, yellow and orange peppers and avocado.
I’m on my second package of gluten free tortillas…and still have leftover quinoa and black bean filling in the fridge. The perfectly seasoned filling reminds me of meat, texture and flavor wise, and they are perfect for Taco Tuesday.
Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika may use regular paprika
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 14 oz can black beans
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 lime, juiced
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 pkg gluten free taco sized tortillas may use regular taco sized tortillas
- assorted toppings such as diced tomatoes, shredded greens, salsa and chopped avocado for tacos
- Saute onions and garlic in skillet with olive oil 3 - 4 minutes until soft and translucent
- Add spices, tomato paste, quinoa and vegetable broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add black beans. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
- Remove pan from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes
- Remove cover, add lime juice and fluff mixture with a spoon or fork
- Heat tortillas in a lightly greased skillet or griddle, one at a time, until they puff and brown slightly. Move to plates and fold in two.
- Spoon quinoa and black bean mixture into tortillas. Top with diced tomatoes, shredded greens, avocado and salsa. Makes at least 8 tacos.
Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
Using the quinoa in place of oatmeal, this morning I prepared a tasty breakfast treat. Plus I made enough quinoa to use for dinner tonight.
For a hearty quinoa breakfast bowl, with leftovers, combine one cup uncooked quinoa with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat and leave the cover on for another five minutes. Use plant based milk, if desired, in place of water.
I combined a healthy portion of cooked quinoa with a cup of fresh blueberries, sliced banana and a tablespoon of chia seeds plus a splash of unsweetened almond milk. If desired, sweeten the breakfast quinoa with a spoonful of pure maple syrup. I left mine unsweetened and it was perfect for me.
A quinoa breakfast bowl is a great change up from oatmeal and packed with nutrients. Try different combos such as raisins and cinnamon, strawberries and bananas, chopped dates and walnuts, bananas and nut butter. The possibilities are endless.
Quinoa and Chickpea Bowl
With my leftover quinoa from this morning, I created a simple, delicious dinner bowl tonight.
I call these bowls my “clean out the fridge” meals. They are a wonderful way to use up leftover veggies and cooked quinoa or brown rice.
In a skillet, melt two tablespoons plant based butter or use olive oil. Add one chopped yellow onion, 3 garlic cloves, minced, and any other veggies you want. I added diced red, yellow and orange peppers and sliced mushrooms. Stir fry veggies until barely tender.
Add cooked quinoa and combine well. I added a generous sprinkle of sea salt and garlic powder. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, allowing quinoa to heat through.
While quinoa mixture simmered, I warmed up organic chickpeas from a can and sliced an avocado.
My assembled bowl contained the quinoa/stir fry mixture, chickpeas, sliced avocado and a mixed green salad with slivers of carrots and red cabbage. It was the perfect evening meal, ready in about 15 minutes.
I’m Sold on Quinoa
I love this superfood! And I’m looking forward to creating more meals with quinoa and discovering new recipes…or creating my own.
Do you love quinoa too? What’s your favorite way to enjoy this highly nutritious food?
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