Quinoa in a bowl

Spotlight on: quinoa

Pronounced “keen-wah”, quinoa is a flavoursome wholegrain, packed with protein, fibre and much more. Read on to find out more about this popular grain with suggestions on different ways to eat it.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa has been grown for thousands of years and is native to South America. It may be popular now, but to the Incas it was a sacred “mother grain”. Nowadays it’s prized by people with celiac disease and gluten allergies because it’s a wholesome gluten-free grain. It has a nutty flavour with a slightly chewy yet fluffy texture.

What are the health benefits of quinoa?

Quinoa is loaded with nutrients

Along with essential vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc, quinoa is packed with fibre, protein and healthy fats, especially compared to other grains. Although it has more calories than white rice, 100 g of quinoa provides 4.4g protein. This is almost double the amount of protein than white rice along with almost 3g of fibre. Quinoa is also rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue, look after muscles and keep teeth and bones healthy. . Folate, the natural form of folic acid is also found in quinoa. This vitamin is especially important for pregnant woman as it helps to protect unborn babies from birth defects.

Quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source for vegetarians and vegans

Quinoa contains protein which our bodies use to help repair and build our muscles, which means it’s also great if you workout. Proteins are made of amino acids. Whilst proteins sourced from animal products contain all the amino acids we need, most plant proteins don’t. Quinoa, on the other hand, does. This makes it a wonderful source of protein for people with plant-based diets.

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Quinoa contains quercetin which has anti-inflammatory properties

Quercetin is a natural compound that may help inflammationIn one study, quercetin supplements appeared to reduce inflammation over an eight week period. Quercetin is also widely used as a natural antihistamine and is commonly used to help ease symptoms of food allergies, hay fever and asthma.

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How can I use quinoa?

Quinoa is most often boiled and used in place of rice with curries or salad. This super-grain can also be ground into a gluten-free flour for baking. Here are some other ways to make the most of this nutty, versatile grain.

Make gluten-free pancakes with quinoa

Use quinoa flour to make delicious pancakes. Whisk with your preferred nut milk and allow to sit in the fridge for half an hour. Pour into a heated, oiled pan and cook on a low to medium heat. Cook for up to three minutes on each side for a thick, golden pancake.

Add quinoa to smoothies

Like hemp or chia seeds, quinoa adds a protein boost to your favourite smoothies. Blend with yogurt, honey and berries for a filling, flavoursome drink.

Use quinoa instead of oats

If you’re tired of your usual oats, start the day with a warming bowl of quinoa porridge. Mix the grains with milk and water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Season with sweet or savoury flavours and finish off with toppings like nuts, fruit or honey to keep you going until lunchtime.

Use quinoa as an alternative to breadcrumbs

If halloumi coated in breadcrumbs is a favourite in your house, try quinoa for a healthier option that’s just as crispy. Use cooked quinoa in place of the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven.

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With its unique flavour, quinoa is a nutrient-rich food ideal for vegetarians, vegans and people that follow a gluten-free diet.

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