It is the only protein grain containing all the nine essential amino acids; gives more energy for lesser amounts, and aids metabolism.
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) was one of the first ‘supergrains’ to gain dietary traction. Most consider it as a cereal - it’s a Pseudocereal actually as it doesn’t originate from a grass family, it is classified as a whole grain, though technically it’s a seed. It is the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach. We perhaps know by now that it is a good source of plant protein and fibre, a cup of cooked Quinoa provides about 8 grams of the former and 5 grams of the later.
But do we know that it is the only complete protein grain available to us?
Where Is It From?
Indigenous to Peru and the other Andean region of South America, principally, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, this plant has been cultivated there for nearly 5000 years.
More than 120 known varieties are recorded so far, out of which the white and yellow ones have the mildest flavour - a good point of initiation, while the black and red types tend to be slightly earthy and strong to taste.
The Protein Repository
Lysine, an amino acid absent in other whole grains, is present in Quinoa, in good measure, along with the other eight essential amino acids that account for well-balanced nutrition. As such, the protein content itself at 13.8% is relatively higher than in other grains. Compared to
Quinoa’s, 8 grams protein in a cooked cup, barley and brown rice chalks up only 3.5 gram and 5 gram respectively.
Fortified more with copper, fibre, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium & zinc with lesser sodium count than corn, wheat or barley, Quinoa additionally is also low in gluten, so even those with celiac disease can have it.
Healthier Than Rice
Twice the amount of protein and about 5 grams more fibre, which incidentally is insoluble, can be had in a cup of Quinoa than in an equal amount of white rice. That means smaller helpings & less calorie intake, can fill you up faster and keep the feeling of fullness longer, aiding in weight loss. It also naturally elevates metabolism and can burn those stubborn belly fat more quickly.
How And When To Eat
Being really versatile it can be cooked both as savoury and sweet dish, as in stir fries, burgers, bars, cookies, salads and puddings and more. It can even be fermented and baked. Quick to cook - taking about half the time for cooking rice, on average, it yields three times its dry volume.
You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or in-between!