Quinoa, an ancient food that has been around for centuries is enjoying its time in the spotlight of recent. Pronounced keen-wah, this plant is part of the amaranth family, but we think it’s in a league of its own. Originating from South America, the peoples of the Andes have been cultivating quinoa for at least 3,000 to 4,000 years.
Despite the growth of quinoa being forbidden by the Spanish conquistadors during their conquest of South America, this grain still stood the test of time and is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
So, what’s the deal with quinoa? We’ll answer that question and see just why the nutritional value of quinoa is all the rage.
Quinoa’s nutritional value: Worth the hype?
In recent years, quinoa has been classified as a superfood by the media at large. But is it really as super as we’re led to believe? Get the low down on quinoa nutrition basics below to see what all the fuss is about.
Let’s get one thing straight: quinoa isn’t really a grain. It’s a pseudocereal, which means it comes from a plant that looks like a cereal grain but isn’t. Quinoa is actually a seed, but when it’s cooked, it takes on a texture similar to whole grains (fluffy with a little extra bite).
Quinoa’s nutrition is a standout for many reasons, such as:
It contains abundant quantities of quercetin and kaempferol, two flavonoids (plant antioxidants). Studies concluded that these two molecules had anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant effects.
It is gluten-free, making it especially valuable for people with celiac disease, acting as an excellent alternative starch for pasta and bread.
It boasts all the essential amino acids necessary to be considered a complete protein. This is notable as having all of the essential amino acids is a rarity among typical whole grains like brown rice or millet.
With a score of 53, it’s low on the glycemic index, regulating blood sugar levels.
It boasts a high number of minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
Quinoa nutrition facts
Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of eating quinoa, let’s look at the specific nutrition breakdown that makes quinoa a nutritional superstar. For starters, quinoa is considered a functional food due to its high mineral, phytohormone and fatty acid content as well as antioxidant levels that work together to improve our body’s functions.
Quinoa is around 15 percent protein, weighing in at 8.1 grams of protein per cooked cup. A cup of cooked quinoa also contains 222 calories, 5.2 grams of dietary fiber and 3.6 grams of fat. Whether your goal is weight loss, weight gain or simply maintenance, quinoa’s nutrition content means it’s an excellent addition to any diet.
We especially recommend that vegetarians and vegans incorporate quinoa into their diet, as it’s a potent plant-based source of protein.
Super nutrition: Quinoa recipes from 8fit
Did you know that quinoa is so versatile you can even transform it into a tasty porridge-like breakfast? We’ll show you how you can incorporate quinoa into your life with some of our favorite 8fit quinoa recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Blueberry Flax Quinoa
- 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
- ¼ cup blueberries
- pinch of salt (optional)
- ½ cup quinoa (uncooked)
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Rinse and dry quinoa and set aside.
- Melt the oil in a pot over medium heat.
- Add the quinoa and cook, frequently stirring until toasted and golden brown (about 5 minutes).
- Next, add the almond milk and a pinch of salt (optional) and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed for about 15-20 minutes.
- Fluff the quinoa with a fork then serve in a bowl.
- Top with fresh blueberries, flax, and cinnamon. Enjoy!
Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 2 ½ cups spinach
- ½ cabbage, chopped
- 1 carrot
- 1 red bell pepper
- 12 peanuts
- 1 lime
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp vinegar
- ½ Tbsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Get the full recipe in the 8fit recipe book.
- ½ cup water
- ½ spring onion
- 1 whole egg
- ¼ cup quinoa (uncooked)
- ½ cucumber
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt, plain (low-fat)
- a tiny bit of salt
- 1 tsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- ¼ cup ground almonds/almond flour
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ bell pepper
- 1 tsp curry powder (dry)
- 1 garlic clove
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Place two parts water to one part quinoa in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
- Simmer the quinoa for about 15 minutes. Take the quinoa off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Wash the bell pepper and spring onion, remove seeds from the bell pepper and chop finely with onion. Peel the garlic and chop it into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix quinoa, ground almonds, egg, spring onion, bell pepper, curry powder, half of the parsley and half of the garlic.
- Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Form patties out of the quinoa mixture. Heat until golden brown (around 6 minutes) and flip carefully. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- In another bowl, mix greek yogurt with the remaining parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Wash the cucumber and cut into thin slices.
- Serve the patties on a plate, top with Greek yogurt dip and enjoy with fresh cucumber.
Even more quinoa recipes
If you liked the recipes we included above, why not sign up for 8fit Pro? Boasting over 700 recipes, our app is the ultimate kitchen aid. And for all you quinoa lovers out there, you’ll be pleased to know that the app has numerous quinoa-forward recipes that are easy, healthy and delicious. Add an extensive collection of workouts to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a one-stop shop for all things health and fitness.