Quinoa. The most famous and well-known gluten-free “pseudo-grains” there is; and for good reason! It’s so versatile and such a great addition to any diet with all its wonderful qualities and health benefits. Gluten-free or not, I hope you learn to love quinoa as much as I do (if you don’t already)!
You didn’t think I would only talk about my love for buckwheat, did you? Of course not! I have to talk about quinoa too! There are so many reasons I love quinoa, but just like buckwheat, there is one aspect (or form) of it that stands out the most. I’ll get to that later, but for now, the facts about this gluten-free seed! I guess that’s where I should start; quinoa is not a grain, but a seed. The seeds come from the quinoa plant similar to the goosefoot plant (thus not a grass, not a cereal grain), and can be considered a pseudo-grain just like buckwheat. Quinoa comes from the same family as spinach, Swiss chard, and beets! The leaves of the plant quinoa comes from are said to taste similar to these veggies.
After the seeds are harvested, they are either packaged for sale in whole seed form, sprouted then ground into a flour, puffed, or milled in to quinoa flakes. The seed has a bitter outer coating and it’s recommended that you rinse the seed in whole form before cooking, but there is still debate on whether that’s necessary or not. Quinoa is considered to be a complete protein and has one of the highest protein contents of all the plant-based sources, but not as much as beans, legumes, or buckwheat. Quinoa is extremely nutrient rich, overshadowing other whole grains. Besides its great protein content and amonio acid profile, it also has a considerable amount of healthy fats including monounsaturated fats and some Omega 3s which give it great heart health benefits. It’s also a great source of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, B vitamins, manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, zinc, vitamin E, and fiber.
There’s no reason not to love quinoa and include it in your diet in some form! In its whole form, it is simply boiled in a pot just like any other grain. You can eat it as you would rice, whole grains, or even pasta (you can also get quinoa pasta of course!), as a porridge, in salads, soups, hot or cold. There are different colors too! The typical gold/white, red, even black. You can sprout quinoa easily since it’s a seed or you can even soak overnight and make some quinoa milk!
In flour form, it is a great addition to add to baked goods, increasing the nutrition of anything you make. The flour does have a stronger, more distinct taste and should be used in combination with other flours. I don’t use it often, mostly for the fact that it’s rather expensive in the stores, but still, a great option to play with!
Now for my favorite form…quinoa flakes! Some of the first recipes I ever posted on Strength and Sunshine were my quinoa flake breakfasts (scary horrible phone snapped photos) but quality recipes non-the-less. I can tell you, I have always loved quinoa flakes and I am never without! What are quinoa flakes? Simply quinoa, milled in such a way similar to instant oats. They are dried and flattened, thus allowing them to cook in about 90 seconds flat. Basically, the new “oatmeal of the future” and to me, the best hot cereal there is! My go-to brand (one of the only brands to make quinoa flakes) is the wonderful king of quinoa products, Ancient Harvest! Certified gluten-free, kosher, vegan, non-gmo, organic. I love them, enough said!
Besides the recipes I sometimes whip up to be fancy (which I’ll link at the end of this post), my go-to way for a hot bowl of flakes it to just add some cocoa powder, cinnamon and top with either protein frosting or nut butter. But recently I have been mixing half oatmeal half quinoa flakes in my morning bowl and then topping with chocolate tahini! Obsessed! Another way I love to use quinoa flakes is in granola! The perfect non-oat addition and gives the granola a light quinoa taste! So if you haven’t tried quinoa flakes yet, get on that…STAT!
One more “quinoa” mention, Kañiwa! Basically it is just the super small relative to the quinoa. It’s grown the same and harvested the same, but not the same plant. The difference between the two is that Kañiwa doesn’t have the outer-coating on the seed like quinoa does (so no rinsing or bitter taste). It also only comes in this reddish/dark brown color. If you though quinoa was a superfood, well Kañiwa is the ultimate superfood!
Now for a quick round-up of the quinoa recipes on the blog (so far) to get you quinoa-lovin’!
Festive Spiced Pecan Quinoa Granola (whole quinoa/quinoa flakes)
Vanilla Pear Quinoa Granola (whole quinoa/quinoa flakes)
Soft Spiced Cocoa Pumpkin Cookies (quinoa flakes)
Almond Joy Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Aloha! Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Apple Spice Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Carrot Cake Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Cocoa Banana Cinnamon Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Cocoa Mocha Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Coconut Peanut Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Coconut Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Gingerbread Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Hot Chocolate Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Key Lime Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Lemon Poppy Seed Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Peppermint Chocolate Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Savory Zucchini Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Vanilla Cinnamon Coffee Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Zucchini Bread Quinoa Flakes (quinoa flakes)
Lentil Quinoa Meatball Bolognese and Zucchini Noodles (whole quinoa)
Macrobiotic Sushi Bowl (whole quinoa)
Cheezy Roasted Vegetable Quinoa (whole quinoa)
Sesame Broccoli Quinoa (whole quinoa)
Raw Coffee Quinoa Protein Bars (quinoa flakes)
Garden Veggie Burgers (quinoa flakes)
So tell me:
+ What’s your favorite way to eat/use quinoa?
+ Have you ever had quinoa flakes? If not, buy some, make some, and tag me on instagram so I can see!
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