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Quinoa: Types, Nutrition, and Culinary usage.

Quinoa also pronounced as “Keen-wah” is an old plant and hence also commonly known as an “ancient grain”. It is a seed and not a grain/cereal but it can be used as a cereal hence it is known as a pseudocereal or pseudo-grain.

Scientific Name:

Chenopodium quinoa.

Nutritional Aspects:
  • Nutritionally speaking, it is considered a complete food due to its Protein Quality. It a source of a complete protein that has all 9 essential amino acids mainly lysine. It is one of those rare plant sources that contain a complete protein.
  • It also has a good protein-carbohydrate ratio.
  • Though it has a low glycemic index, it still contains a relatively high amount of carbohydrates.
  • Quinoa is high in fiber. Thereby gives satiety and fullness. Thus it aids weight loss.
  • It is Gluten-free and hence can be used easily by people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
  • Rich in important source of minerals and vitamins like magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E.
  • Sprouted quinoa has a higher amount of antioxidants as compared to regular grain.
  • It has also been found to contain compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids including quercetin and kaempferol which are potent antioxidants with a lot of benefits.
  • Research also states that Quinoa is known to have prebiotic potential. Thus aiding in improving gut flora.
Types of Quinoa

As per the Whole Grain Council, there are 120 different species of quinoa and further classified into 1800 types. Commercially, they are mainly classified as White (ivory/off-white), Red, and Black Quinoa.

Taste and texture

The regular white/ivory quinoa has a mild nutty taste and is soft in texture. The red quinoa has a medium nutty flavor, distinct red color, and is crunchy. While Black quinoa has a distinct earthy taste, a prominent color, and is the crunchiest of all.

Preparation

It is easy to prepare, as simple as making rice.

  • Wash before use. Soak it at least for 10-15mins proves to be effective too.
  • For 1 cup you need at least 3-4 cups of water. (The ratio of quinoa to water may vary depending on the brand and level of processing of the packaged grain.)
  • It absorbs the water doubles in size and turns translucent at the edge which indicates it is done.
  • White Quinoa tastes the least time to cook while black takes the longest time.
  • It can be used like rice, as a part of salads and soups. It can also be used as a breakfast cereal.
Purchasing:

It can easily be purchased at supermarkets and online dealers.

Do check the food label before purchase.

Precaution

Allergy though rare is still possible.

Lastly do try out Quinoa Upma which is a simple, easy-to-make breakfast recipe.

Reference

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