What is quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a native seed ancient grain from South America that was first grown on the Andes over 7000 years ago. (1) It is a gluten-free seed that has become popular as a low-carb substitute for rice. Quinoa plants have beautiful silvery-green leaves and brilliant red, pink, and gold seedheads. It’s easy to grow, drought-tolerant, and disease resistant, with the seed harvest taking place in autumn before the first hard frost.
According to Healthline, 1 cup of quinoa cooked consists of 71.6% water, 21.3% carbohydrates, 4.4% protein, 1.92% fat, and 220 calories. Quinoa is considered a complete protein source, which means that it provides all nine essential amino acids.
Quinoa is growing in popularity as a superfood because it's packed with vitamins and minerals. It also contains phytohormones, which offer an advantage over other plant foods for human nutrition. (2)
- Manganese: 58% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
- Phosphorous: 28% of the RDI.
- Folate: 19% of the RDI.
- Copper: 18% of the RDI.
- Iron: 15% of the RDI.
- Zinc: 13% of the RDI.
- Thiamin: 13% of the RDI.
- Riboflavin: 12% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B6: 11% of the RDI.
Quinoa is not bad for you. However, eating several servings a day for an extended period of time might have some side effects. Because quinoa is a plant fiber, too much might disrupt your body's ability to absorb key nutrients, cause bloating gas and constipation.
The flavor of quinoa has a slightly nutty taste and a fluffy texture that is somewhat chewy. It also tastes similar to brown rice but has a nuttier earthy flavor.
When you properly prepared, quinoa should taste like roasted sesame seeds or even roasted peanuts. If your quinoa has a bitter flavor or soapy taste, it's likely in need of washing in a fine mesh strainer with cold water before cooking. This helps remove the bitter saponin coating on the seeds. Boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, but it doesn’t hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse at home.
How do you make quinoa taste good?
The key is to first rinse quinoa before cooking. It has saponins coating the seed, a naturally occurring phytochemical that gives off a bitter taste.
Because quinoa has a mild nutty taste, it can take on the flavor of any seasoning you add, such as garlic, fresh herbs, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, cumin, nutritional yeast, or cayenne. Try adding a drizzle of olive oil over warm quinoa, and then add some chopped vegetables such as fresh spinach, arugula, chopped kale, bell peppers, onions, shallots, or other vegetables you enjoy. It's also good to crumble on feta cheese or sun-dried tomatoes. The sky is the limit; there are tons of ways to combine ingredients to flavor your quinoa.
Does the quinoa taste better than rice?
White rice is blander than quinoa. Also, the quinoa has a more nutty flavor than plain rice.
Is quinoa better for you than rice?
Quinoa is better for you than white rice because of its higher nutritional benefits. Here is a list of reasons why quinoa is better for you than rice.
- Has lower glycemic index
- Is rich in fiber
- Has twice as much protein as rice
- Fewer calories
- Helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar
- Reduces your blood fat levels (triglycerides)
- Higher in essential amino
- Higher in mineral content
What types of quinoa are there?
There are several varieties of quinoa and different colors. You can easily find white or red quinoa in your local grocery stores. You also might want to check your local health food stores or online. They are all very similar, except white quinoa is a little milder of the three, while red and black have a chewier texture that holds up better in cold dishes like salads.
What should quinoa taste like after cooked?
Quinoa should taste like roasted sesame seeds or roasted peanuts. It has a slightly nutty crunchy flavor.
Quinoa Recipes to try
- Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Sazon Cashew Dressing is loaded with Cuban flavors that are layered with mixed greens, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro. It is a healthy vegan dish full of authentic Cuban flavors.
- Quick and easy to make, this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad would be great for lunch, or add grilled chicken and make it a healthy dinner the whole family will enjoy.
- Healthy vegan Quinoa Stuffed Peppers With Vegan Jalapeño Cream will feed your Mexican craving guilt-free.
One of my favorite ways of cooking quinoa is a simple pan method. This method yields a firm, not mushy quinoa, perfect for making a side dish or quinoa salad.
How To Cook Quinoa
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa any variety, white, red, or black
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups water Can use vegetable broth or chicken broth if you prefer.
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse quinoa thoroughly under cool, running tap water. Stir the quinoa around with your hands while rinsing to help remove the saponins coating. Drain.
- Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Next, add the drained quinoa and cook, constantly stirring, to let the water evaporate and toast the quinoa. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the water or broth and add salt. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Once quinoa is at a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Cover and continue to cook quinoa for 15 minutes.
- Next, remove the pot from heat, leaving the lid on let stand for 5 more minutes. For best results, don't peek.
- Uncover, fluff the quinoa gently with a fork and serve. Note* If any liquid remains in the bottom of the pan or if the quinoa is still a bit crunchy, return the pot to low heat and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed.