What is Quinoa?
Forged in South America thousands of years ago and called “the mother grain" by the Inca, quinoa today is still considered a wonderful “superfood”. According to the Whole Grains Council, quinoa is a gluten-free, whole-grain carbohydrate, as well as a whole protein (meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids).
What are the nutritional facts of Quinoa?
quinoa is a wonderful choice for people on a gluten-free diet or any generally healthy diet due to its incredible nutrition base. Compared with refined grains, whole grains like quinoa are considered better sources of fiber, protein, B vitamins, and iron. But aside from these key nutrients, one of the greatest nutrient profiles quinoa can offer is its level of protein. Because protein makes up 15 percent of the grain, quinoa is a high-protein, low-fat grain option. It’s also naturally gluten free, high in fiber, and provides many key vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B and magnesium.
White Rice vs Quinoa
White rice has a high glycemic index—meaning consuming it can potentially make your blood sugar shoot up quickly - and is a refined starch, making its nutritional benefits extremely limited. In fact, white rice contains 40 more calories and 15 times the carbohydrates per cup than the same amount of quinoa.
In comparison, quinoa is rich in both fiber and protein, and contains much higher amounts of nutrients while allowing for a similar texture. A cup of quinoa will also provide twice the protein and about 5 grams more fiber than the same amount of white rice. Due to this higher quantity of protein and fiber, quinoa is not only the healthier choice, but will also fill you up faster, allowing for smaller portion sizes. Plus, this surplus of fiber can help to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
Brown Rice vs Quinoa
Quinoa and brown rice contain similar calorie counts and micronutrients per cup serving, and similar amounts of dietary fiber. However, quinoa does have slightly higher amounts of protein and lower carbohydrates per serving, making it narrowly more beneficial to your diet. Additionally, quinoa is a complete protein, unlike brown rice, which only contains a few amino acids. In terms of mineral counts, while quinoa is higher in iron and magnesium than rice, brown rice contains more manganese and selenium. However, in their entirety, quinoa does contain more plentiful nutrients than brown rice, making it the more beneficial choice overall.
Here are 3 deliciously healthy Quinoa recipe for you to try:
1. Spicy cajun chicken quinoa
Nutrition per serving:
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
600ml hot chicken stock
100g dried apricots, sliced
½ x 250g pouch ready-to-use lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, cut into thin wedges
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
small bunch coriander, chopped
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the chicken with the Cajun spice and arrange in a single layer in a roasting tin. Bake for 20 mins until the chicken is cooked. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in the chicken stock for 15 mins until tender, adding the apricots and lentils for the final 5 mins. Drain and place into a large bowl with the chicken, toss together.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan and soften the onions for 10-15 mins. Toss the onions into the quinoa with the coriander and some seasoning, then mix well.
2. Tuna, avocado and quinoa salad
Nutrition per serving:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice 1 lemon
½ tbsp white wine vinegar
120g can tuna drained
1 avocado stoned, peeled and cut into chunks
200g cherry tomatoes on the vine, halved
50g feta crumbled
50g baby spinach
2 tbsp mixed seeds, toasted
Rinse the quinoa under cold water. Tip into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins until the grains have swollen but still have some bite. Drain, then transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a jug, combine the oil, lemon juice and vinegar with some seasoning.
Once the quinoa has cooled, mix with the dressing and all the remaining ingredients and season. Divide between plates or lunch boxes.
3. Stuffed butternut squash with quinoa
Nutrition per serving:
1 medium butternut squash
Olive oil for roasting
pinch dried oregano
150g ready-to-eat quinoa
100g feta cheese
50g toasted pine nut
1 small carrot grated (around 50g)
Small bunch chives, snipped
Juice half lemon
1 red pepper, chopped
50g pitted black olive
2 spring onions chopped
Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds and score the flesh with a sharp knife.
Arrange the two halves on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, sprinkle with dried oregano and cook for 40 minutes. Take out the oven, add the chopped peppers to the tray alongside the squash and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile mix the rest of the ingredients. Take the tray out of the oven and carefully transfer the peppers to the stuffing mix. Stir together and spoon the filling onto the butternut squash. Return to the oven for 10 mins. Serve.
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