What Exactly is Quinoa?
Just like fitness, nutrition comes with its own trends - like kale chips and cauliflower pizza crust, for example. But recently a grain called quinoa has been making headlines. The superfood has also been popping up on the shelves of neighborhood grocery stores, moving out of specialty health food stores and into the mass market. But what exactly is quinoa?
While often considered a whole grain, quinoa is actually a seed that is chiefly harvested in the Andes. It is considered an "ancient grain," which means it is cultivated the same way it was in early history.
Even though it has been a long-time food source, quinoa has risen as a major nutritional trend. It is known as a gluten-free food, and also packs a powerful punch of protein - more than 8 grams per cooked cup. It is also considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.
Quinoa comes in different varieties: white quinoa has a fluffier texture when cooked; black and red quinoa are known to be crunchier, but the taste does not change much from one variety to the next.
Because of all this, quinoa has become a favorite recipe add-in, since it can be used as a substitute in just about any recipe that calls for rice or whole grain. Not sure where to get started on the quinoa trend? Try a warm almond quinoa breakfast sundae or parfait for a quick dose of protein. Just be sure to rinse your quinoa with water before cooking, since the seeds are coated in saponin - a bitter coating that defends the seeds from predators.
Do you have a favorite quinoa recipe? Share it with us in a comment below.