8 Health Benefits of Quinoa (that high protein, low glycemic index grain that the Incas used to use)

By Caroltoo Latest Reply 2012-04-30 08:06:06 -0500
Started 2012-04-11 18:24:16 -0500

Eating quinoa as a part of our health conscious food choices gives us several benefits in addition to good taste:

1. Source of high quality protein with all nine essential amino acids. It is 16% - 20% protein compared to rice (7.5%), millet (9.9%), and wheat (14%).
2. Great source of riboflavin which improves energy metabolism in muscle and brain cells. Also helps reduce migraines in some sufferers.
3. Increase stamina and recovery time like the Inca warriors who used it.
4. Antiseptic. The saponins from quinoa are used as an antiseptic in S. Amer.
5. Not fattening! 172 calories per 1/4 cup of uncooked grain. Proteins account for 24 calories, 12 are sugars, and the rest are complex low GI carbs.
6. Gluten free.
7. Alkaline forming like wild rice, amaranth, and sprouted grains.
8. Smart carbohydrates: complex carbohydrates that are low glycemic index and don't raise the BGs as much as higher glycemic index ones do.

Follow the link for more information and cooking instructions.

76 replies

jigsaw 2012-04-26 04:55:21 -0500 Report

Got this in my e-mail the other day! Thought it would be good additiuonal info!

GabbyPA 2012-04-29 07:10:27 -0500 Report

This is a great article. I think I am going to start to try to grow some in my garden.

jigsaw 2012-04-29 08:08:43 -0500 Report

If you have success growing it, let me know. This link seemed informative for potential growing of quinoa!

GabbyPA 2012-04-29 21:58:19 -0500 Report

What a fantastic link. I may experiment. It is a little late in our season here to try, but I am going to do that. I have some space where my broccoli used to be. I love this and if the yield is a pound for 10 plants, I am saving myself a LOT of money...we will see.

Caroltoo 2012-04-29 22:12:06 -0500 Report

It is a great one, isn't it? I bookmarked the site … sure I will find other reasons to go back to it.

Caroltoo 2012-04-29 11:48:03 -0500 Report

Thanks, that looks very informative. My climate would work, but I'm not sure of my space w/r/t what I can raise here…picky association.

Young1s 2012-04-25 16:30:59 -0500 Report

I made a small portion of the quinoa today. Not bad. I expected it to be squishy to taste but it wasn't. When I added some to the mashed cauliflower I made last night, it took on the flavors that I added to the cauliflower, that was nice. However, the consistency was more like that of grits. By the time I had made my lunch, my youngest daughter was home. I let her try some too and she like it a lot. So again, not the mashed potato consistency that I wanted, but still very tasty.

Young1s 2012-04-20 09:47:43 -0500 Report

I finally picked some up but haven't used it yet. It's a 12oz box and cost nearly $6. Wow. I guess I'll have to go to a Whole Foods or something to be able to buy it in bulk.

Caroltoo 2012-04-20 15:27:25 -0500 Report

Bulk at Whole Foods is much less expensive. I got a plastic veggie bag about half full for less than what you paid for the 12 oz. I don't recall the per pound figure cause I've been using from this bag for several months now, but my recollection is that I thought it was about 1/2 per pound what the box was for less than a pound.

Young1s 2012-04-20 18:58:35 -0500 Report

Thanks for the info, Carol. I figured Whole Foods was the way to go. Much easier to get to, too. Will let you know when I try some in the box I have. Question: When opened, can it be stored as easily as unused rice or pasta?

Caroltoo 2012-04-20 20:18:00 -0500 Report

I've seen the recommendation for an air tight container. I have mine in a tall spaghetti container since I'm no longer cooking spaghetti. Anything airtight from a sealed plastic bag to plastic storage container would work fine.

jayabee52 2012-04-20 11:38:15 -0500 Report

I got mine at Trader Joe's at $4 / 12 oz box.

Young1s 2012-04-20 12:17:57 -0500 Report

Good to know, James. Unfortunately, the nearest Trader Joe's to me is a bus, train, and trolley ride away. I'll have to try it first, to decide if it's worth the savings.

GabbyPA 2012-04-20 13:51:40 -0500 Report

That is why I order on line. I get mine at Amazon.com for about $4 a pound. If you work it right you can get it sometimes with free shipping, then it is a real bargain.

GabbyPA 2012-04-20 14:19:03 -0500 Report

Here...drop me a note if you would like me to send you a cup of dry to try. Then you can see if you like it and then decide what step to take next. If you want, send me a private message and we will go from there.

Young1s 2012-04-20 15:04:51 -0500 Report

I have a box now, just haven't gotten around to making some yet. But I will soon. I'll let you know when I do.

Caroltoo 2012-04-20 15:24:56 -0500 Report

When I made a Spanish Rice dish with it last week, it tasted just like it always did .. like Spanish Rice, though there was not a piece of rice in it. Generally, it is tasteless and takes on the flavoring of whatever you fix in/with it. You can also use the flakes like an oatmeal.

GabbyPA 2012-04-20 14:48:37 -0500 Report

Not really. It is more fluffy and light. It is round and very bland. You have to cook it in broth or add flavor to it, but it is a great replacement for rice for most of us. The texture to me is a little more like coscos ....sort of.

jlively1 2012-04-18 14:20:59 -0500 Report

Wow! Tried this for the first time today during my lunch break. I'm hooked! Great taste. The only problem is that the person selling it to me said it had "no carbs". At least I know that the carbs are low GI carbs.

Caroltoo 2012-04-18 14:23:32 -0500 Report

No gluten, fewer and (for me, at least) less reactive carbs. Yes, I like the versatility of it. It takes on the flavor of whatever is cooked with it. Loved my Spanich "Rice" a few days ago. The other great thing is that it is a concentrated source of protein.

dietcherry 2012-04-15 15:34:40 -0500 Report

Here are 2 more quinoa recipes for you folks; hope they arent repeats!!


Hey if you go to the website, check out the comments under the recipes; someone says soaking for several hours and rinsing thoroughly is required before consuming the un-rinsed versions to remove the pesticide. Another comment claims some folks become violently ill from using this seed ????

Caroltoo 2012-04-15 16:50:31 -0500 Report

Thanks for the recipes.

My reading says the seed always needs to be washed because of a chemical that grows on it naturally (sort of an antiseptic), so even if you are using organically grown seeds, it should be washed before being cooked. Have to admit I cooked quite a bit before I read that and had no ill effects.

Soaking makes it cook faster, like soaking a dried lentil or kidney bean before cooking. It's not necessary. I frequently wash mine, then brown them lightly in EVOO, then add chicken broth and cook them. That first browning makes them cook much faster.

Haven't read anything about people being sick with Quinoa. I have with chia seeds. I think the principle would be the same, they are mildly abrasive and clean some of the collected impurities off the intestinal wall. It is possible to have a reaction to that process.

GabbyPA 2012-04-15 18:09:26 -0500 Report

Too much of either of these when you have not eaten them before creates tummy troubles, that is for sure. You have to work into having it on a regular basis and then it should be fine unless there is something in them that your body cannot handle.

About washing first, I never heard that. I too have never prewashed my quinoia and have not suffered from any ill effects. I should try to plant some and see if it will grow in my garden. Hmmmm I may have to do that.

jigsaw 2012-04-14 16:33:28 -0500 Report

Ok, I'm going to try quinoa! I'm convinced it's worth the effort of getting a box. But first things first. Today is my anniversary of 33 years of marriage. So I'm off to the store to get my wife an anniversary gift, otherwise i might not be eating anything at all for a long time !

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 17:04:12 -0500 Report

Welcome to the Quinoa Club! Look for "bulk" as it's less expensive, but you don't have to buy a big quantity. In this case "bulk" just means you bag your own, then put in something airtight when you get it home.

You have your priorities sorted out right, Al. Anniversary present for your wife definitely takes precedence!!

Set apart
Set apart 2012-04-14 07:54:58 -0500 Report

Hi guys, gotta share yesterday I thought about quiona and the discussion on Mexican foods, so I thought I want spanish rice which I haven't had since diagnosed. I substituted the quiona for rice and had a whole cup, delicious with a reading 2 hours later of 120. Thanks again Carol I don't have to give up all of my favorite foods. I am posting my recipe, very simple!

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 22:27:58 -0500 Report

I made something similar to my mom's version for lunch today and it was great. The quinoa tasted just like rice. My BG went to 125 after a very generous serving. My recipe uses celery, onion, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes, salsa, chili powder, and hamburger in addition to the things in your recipe. The vegs and hamburger help offset the remaining carbs to tame the BG bounce.

Set apart
Set apart 2012-04-15 05:33:59 -0500 Report

This sounds great, thanks for the share. Next time will add a few more veggies to mine. I made enough to go for a few days had some again for dinner also, added some sautéed beef to mine like a stir fry! What a great finding, and delicious! :-)

Set apart
Set apart 2012-04-15 05:45:20 -0500 Report

Stuffed green peppers using quinoa, what a great idea! I think I'm on a roll with this, since I used to love rice dishes! Thanks again Carol.

Caroltoo 2012-04-15 11:48:20 -0500 Report

Somewhere in this discussion, Gabby asked about Q in a meatloaf. Sounds like it would be doable also.

Young1s 2012-04-14 09:15:50 -0500 Report

Can't wait to try it. Picking up some quinoa later today.

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 15:37:25 -0500 Report

Try to find somewhere, Pat, that sells it in bulk. Doesn't mean you have to buy a lot, just that you bag your own. It is considerably less expensive in bulk and is the same product.

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 11:47:13 -0500 Report

Yes, I'll try it today too. Spanish rice is one of my favorite childhood memories. Mom's was spicier than this sounds, but that's easy to resolve.

Armourer 2012-04-13 16:54:38 -0500 Report

This has been a savior for me in the protein area. I eat it almost everyday at least once until I found Greek yogurt and went on victoza, now I eat only once a day so I don't eat it as often. It has no taste so it takes on what it is cooked with. Use in place of rice in most dishes. Shelf life is long so I buy it in bulk at costco for $10 for 4 lb bag. Love the stuff!

dietcherry 2012-04-13 13:14:28 -0500 Report

Hello! Just stopping in for a moment to share this quinoa recipe contest link from Trader Joes! Its pretty straight-forward so some of you may be interested in entering:

FYI: Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is not a grain; its a SEED from the goosewort plant, a relative of spinach and chard :)

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 11:50:46 -0500 Report

A couple days ago, I read that it is a seed. Surprise to me, but I used my "old" terminology when I wrote this, so that's an oops. Makes me wonder though at what the difference is between a seed and a grain. Both are the fruit that come from the flowers of these plants, both are the source of reproduction for the plant. Guess I'm going to have to go review some botony, cause now I'm curious.

Young1s 2012-04-14 13:20:25 -0500 Report

I just read a couple of articles that said that it's a seed but it's prepared like a grain. Which might be why it's so easy to refer to it as grain. One of the articles also said that it is often called an "Ancient Grain" and it is a gluten free super-seed.

dietcherry 2012-04-14 12:34:38 -0500 Report

lol Carol I didnt know it was a seed; I saw this tidbit on the Trader Joes website and thought Id share it :)

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 14:44:34 -0500 Report

Sounds like it would be a lot like a rice stuffing for peppers, but lots healthier because of the protein.

GabbyPA 2012-04-14 21:00:41 -0500 Report

I have made stuffed peppers with it and it quite yummy. If you do a tomato base for your stuffing, just keep it a little lower in liquid because it gets too mushy if you leave a lot of liquid to be absorbed. You may have to experiment with it, but it is very nice.

GabbyPA 2012-04-14 12:13:38 -0500 Report

Yea, I don't know either. I think it has something to do with germ, but I'm not sure. I too have read it is a seed, but I have also planted whole grain and it grew in my garden?? It's like the difference between nuts and legumes or fruits and vegetables...I can't ever keep it straight.

Set apart
Set apart 2012-04-13 07:55:24 -0500 Report

Hi Carol, I've tried it usually use it as a substitute for rice along with low sodium chicken or beef broth. It's yummy!

Caroltoo 2012-04-13 08:05:41 -0500 Report

Yes, it is yummy with beef or chicken. I usually add a variety of veggies too as you no doubt saw in the recipe below.

Gambling 2012-04-11 19:34:00 -0500 Report

Time to buy a box of it and test it out

Lizardfan 2012-04-12 12:28:54 -0500 Report

Me too Gambling! I saw it in the grocery the other day, now for the hard part, convincing Hubby to try it!

Caroltoo 2012-04-12 12:50:00 -0500 Report

Do you cook anything with barley? Stews? It's easy to introduce a small amount without it being noticable … once you know he eats it, then increase the amount with subsequent dishes. Like barley, it is pretty bland by itself which is what allows you to introduce it into dishes without really being aware of the change.

Caroltoo 2012-04-11 20:49:52 -0500 Report

It's good. I bought a small box to try it; then started purchasing it in bulk because it is 1/3 - 1/2 the cost when you buy any amount in the bulk format (bag your own, then put in an air sealed container when you get home).

I just had it for lunch and my husband ate a bowl! What a shocker!!! He has been so picky recently with his high carb only diet. Sometimes it is just hard to watch him, but I know, in his condition, that he no longer understands nutrition so I just give him a couple of vitamin pills.

Using medium heat, cook together
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
Add water as needed (quinoa needs moisture 4:1)
3 stalks celery
1 cup julienned baby carrots
1/2 onion, cut up in small chunks
1/4 red bell pepper, bite sized pieces
1/2 cup cauliflower (can use stem and flowerette, just cut stem in small chunks)
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow crocked neck squash, sliced
2 small Roma tomatoes, cut lengthwise in about 8 pieces
2 stalks of kale, torn off spine and into small pieces
Seasoned with: pepper, basil, oregano, garlic, and lightly salted

Basil and oregano were from my herb garden!!! I thought I lost them last week in the unexpected heat, but most survived.

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 11:52:51 -0500 Report

I added a little cooked chicken aad the rest of this for dinner last night. The flavors had blended beautifully and it was really yummy.

GabbyPA 2012-04-12 10:57:58 -0500 Report

I don't know if it is because I use the white variety, but mine is cooked at the same ratio of rice. 2:1 2 cups water, one cup quinoia. Did you use red or black quinioa?

Caroltoo 2012-04-12 12:33:34 -0500 Report

Gabby: I use the red and the white. Yesterday I cooked the white. Haven't noticed a difference between them except that the red is a little crunchier in a recipe. I usually start out at the 2:1 ration, but find I usually add more water a couple of times. I've seen both 2:1 and 4:1 in the literature, so it may relate to desired consistency of the product (mine was more like a thick soup yesterday because of Wayne' needs), the temperature at which you cook it, as well as which grain you use.

I started with the 2:1 ratio of chicken broth to quinoa, then used water to get the desired consistency of the finished product. Perhaps I should have said: quinoa needs UP TO 4:1 fluid:quinoa ratio.

GabbyPA 2012-04-14 11:36:17 -0500 Report

I have heard that the red and black require more liquid. I have only used the white, mostly because it is the least expensive. But the first time I cooked it alone, it was kind of mushy. I like it more fluffy, so I keep the moisture down a bit. But it is a very handy food to keep around. I use it a lot.

Have you ever used it in a meatloaf or something like that??

Caroltoo 2012-04-14 11:40:13 -0500 Report

Confession time: my childhood memories are such that I have never made a meatloaf since leaving my childhood home. If I did, I think that would be a good place to use it.

GabbyPA 2012-04-14 21:01:30 -0500 Report

You are the second person who has that kind of childhood issues with meatloaf...how interesting.

jayabee52 2012-04-11 18:35:24 -0500 Report

Thanks for sharing that Carol!

I had been introduced to Quinoa ("KeenWAH") through DC more than a yr ago. It is good to know these things about Quinoa, some of which I hadn't known before. I have a box of it and I been thinking of getting it out and having it again!

It really has little taste on its own so I am planning on using chicken broth as the boiling medium to cook it.

GabbyPA 2012-04-12 10:55:55 -0500 Report

I love quinoia and I use it almost every week. I always cook it in a broth to flavor it up. I use it with rice to cut the carbs down and still allow the family to have rice. I use it in pilaf and dry roast it before cooking it with other grains. I get mine in bulk from www.nuts.com and it comes out to be about $4 a pound. Much less than in the boxes as the grocery store. I have also ordered it from Amazon.com, but I like the resealable packaging of the nuts.com one better. I have 15 pounds of it in the house right now and plan to cook some tonight to go with my curried chicken. YUM

I also get my chia seeds from them as well and you can get those in bulk as well.

Caroltoo 2012-04-11 18:45:16 -0500 Report

Yes, I cook mine in low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth and add carrots, celery, and onion to it. It makes a good base that tastes good by itself, or I sometimes add cooked chicken, zucchini, tomatoes, or whatever is around to give it a little more variety. I also add some to soup or stew as I am cooking them: put it just about anywhere I would have used rice or barley in the past.

jayabee52 2012-04-11 18:54:57 -0500 Report

I have some peppers, onions and garlic I think I'll throw in also, just for grins :-)

Caroltoo 2012-04-12 13:33:11 -0500 Report

I use chia in my salad dressing for protein in my salads.

I went fat free for several years and found I feel better with some in my diet, though I am selective about which ones and how much. Usually, I use EVOO, coconut oil, or avocado oil in cooking; sesame oil for skin care.

Caroltoo 2012-04-11 20:51:53 -0500 Report

Oh, just about anything. This is the basis for my "let's clean out the refrigerator so I can go shopping for fresh stuff" soup/stew.