Quinoa: The Healthy Superfood From South America

Quinoa is very popular – not without reason: the superfood is not only good as a delicious side dish, but it is also extremely healthy. Everything you need to know about the little seeds!

What is quinoa?

Quinoa has experienced real hype in recent years: the South American grain is touted as a healthy superfood in restaurants, organic shops, and even in conventional supermarkets. In the Andes, however, quinoa has been on the menu for over 6000 years, because the Incas swore by the round grains. In South America, they grow mainly in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia. In the meantime, quinoa is also grown in Germany.

The plant is not a grain: the plant is a foxtail plant and, like amaranth or buckwheat, is a pseudo-cereal. Quinoa grains are the seeds of the quinoa plant. They roughly correspond to the size of a pinhead. The grains most commonly found on supermarket shelves are beige to white. Rarely they are available in black, red, purple, or orange. The taste is also different: while the light quinoa seeds have a mild nutty aroma, the dark grains taste a little stronger. You can also buy the superfood as grist, flakes, flour, or puffed.

Because quinoa is not only healthy but also gluten-free, it is an ideal alternative for people with celiac disease. When cooked, the grain is good in hearty dishes. But the superfood can also be seen as a breakfast: you can garnish your muesli with puffed quinoa or prepare the grain similar to oatmeal.

That’s why quinoa is so healthy

The ingredients of quinoa are impressive: the seeds are not only a valuable source of protein but are also full of minerals.

  • lysine
    According to the Federal Center for Nutrition, 100 grams of quinoa contain around 860 grams of lysine. The amino acid plays a major role in muscle and connective tissue and is otherwise mainly found in meat, fish, and other animal products.
  • minerals and trace elements
    Quinoa is an optimal supplier of iron: 100 grams raw weight contains around 8 milligrams of the trace element and thus more than half of the daily requirement for women. It is therefore particularly suitable as a contribution to healthy nutrition for vegetarians and vegans. Magnesium, calcium, and potassium are also found in the grain.
  • fiber
    Quinoa is a blessing for the intestines: the grain is full of healthy fiber, which has a positive effect on digestion and can thus prevent constipation. There are around 7 grams of fiber in 100 grams of uncooked quinoa.

What should be considered when eating quinoa?

Saponins are found in the peel of quinoa. Although the grain usually ends up on the shelf peeled in stores, residues of the bitter substance can remain on the surface. In such small amounts, saponins are not harmful to health – but they can give the quinoa dish an unpleasantly bitter note, which is why they should be washed off beforehand. To do this, simply put the grains in a fine-mesh sieve. Alternatively, you can also use a coarse-meshed sieve lined with a clean kitchen towel. Then, rinse the quinoa grains under the faucet until the water runs clear and the saponins are no longer bubbling.

Cooking quinoa: instructions

When cooked, quinoa makes an excellent healthy salad. The grain can also be prepared like a rice dish, as a breakfast porridge, or as a vegetarian patty. Cooking quinoa is easy as pie:

  1. Step: Wash the grains as above.
  2. Step: Now put the quinoa in a saucepan. For every cup of quinoa, you need about three cups of water.
  3. Step: Boil everything briefly and then let the quinoa continue to simmer on low to medium heat. Add salt or vegetable stock.
  4. Step: After 15 minutes the quinoa is al dente. Taste and let the grains simmer for a few more minutes, if necessary until the desired consistency is reached.
  5. Step: At the end, carefully pour off the remaining water – done!
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Written by Danielle Moore

So you landed on my profile. Come on in! I am an award-winning chef, recipe developer, and content creator, with a degree in social media management and personal nutrition. My passion is creating original content, including cookbooks, recipes, food styling, campaigns, and creative bits to help brands and entrepreneurs find their unique voice and visual style. My background in the food industry allows me to be able to create original and innovative recipes.

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