Quinoa, a Mighty Little Grain - By Lynne Fendall

It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself wandering the aisles of my local health food store looking for something that I had never bought before. I reluctantly asked the associate where I could find the “Queen-Oh-Ah”.  Her puzzled expression, followed immediately by a friendly, however highly amused grin, affirmed what I already knew. “You must mean Quinoa (keen wah)?” Yep, that’s what I meant.

Much like the super food kale, quinoa is one of those trendy health foods that we have been reading about on social websites, in magazines, and can find in the health food aisle in most of our local grocery store chains. Costco sells it, Trader Joes has multiple varieties. Google it and you will find hundreds of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts. 

Photo courtesy of Gretchen's Grains

What is this funny looking little grain and why is it so beneficial to us?

Quinoa is NOT a cereal grain. Because it is prepared the same way as many cereal grains and can be ground into flour like grain, it tends to be lumped into the category of wheat, oats, barley, and rye.  It is in fact, a member of the same food family as spinach, Swiss chard, and beets and is gluten free.

Quinoa is a COMPLETE protein. There are 8g of protein in 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Because of its significant amount of amino acids, quinoa serves as a complete protein source in our diet. On contrast, most grains have an inadequate amount of these amino acids to be considered a complete protein. 

Quinoa has GOOD fat and CALCIUM. Quinoa contains the heart healthy fat Oleic acid and Omega 3 fatty acids, which is associated with decreased risk of inflammation related diseases. Quinoa also has 2x the amount of calcium than whole wheat.

There is plenty of evidence to show that quinoa overcomes many of the shortcomings found in cereal grains.  It’s as easy to prepare as rice, has a nice texture, and takes on the flavor of whatever you add to it. I simply like to add a package of cooked lentils and some roasted and seasoned veggies. It makes enough for a few days and is a great snack or meal. Try incorporating quinoa into some of your favorite recipes. 

Gretchen's Grains offers quick-cooking, organic quinoa and many delicious recipes online. Many of her products can be found in stores throughout the NW. Visit www.gretchensgrains.com for more!

Photo courtesy of Gretchen's Grains

Photo courtesy of Gretchen's Grains

By: Lynne Fendall, ATF Blog Contributor