The many powers of quinoa

By Mina Radman • Published: April 22nd, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You’ve probably seen Quinoa (KEEN-wah) on restaurant menus or on grocery store shelves but have no idea what it is. Quinoa, a chewy seed derived from plants, has skyrocketed in popularity because it’s easy to cook, has many health benefits and can be used in a lot of gluten-free recipes. In fact, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations officially declared 2013 the “International Year of the Quinoa” because of its nutritious value.

Wondering what’s so great about this mysterious food … and well, what is is exactly? When cooked, quinoa looks like small chunks of rice with a light and fluffy texture. Quinoa is a member of the same plant family as spinach, but because of how it’s commonly consumed, it’s categorized with wheat, barley and rye. Quinoa has plenty of fiber, minerals and vitamins. It is high in fat content, providing heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat. It’s also protein-packed, which makes it a popular meat-alternative with vegans and vegetarians.

Quinoa can be eaten both hot and cold. It is a substitute for rice, barley or couscous in salads and side dishes. Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes. Bring water to a boil, add the quinoa and simmer until it’s light and fluffy. A good rule of measurement is two cups of water for every cup of quinoa.

If you’re interested in making quinoa part of your regular diet, there are a few simple recipes you can follow, or you can use it as a side dish to any meal.

For breakfast, top a bowl of cooked quinoa with fruit. For lunch, add vegetables and a salad dressing. For dinner, mix it up with lean meat or fish and roasted vegetables.

Pick up a bag of quinoa the next time you’re at a grocery store or spot it on a restaurant menu. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy this superpowered food.