Innovation

Quinoa: The World’s Most Popular Ancient Grain

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Katie Harris, Product Development & Nutrition Scientist

Quinoa is more than just a simple inclusion that we see on salads and breads.  By itself, quinoa provides excellent nutrition and can be incorporated into everyone’s healthy lifestyle.

After the holiday season is over, it seems that everyone is looking for the newest food that can help them lose weight and get healthy, fast.  But why look for something new when the solution has been around for centuries?  Quinoa, the most popular ancient grain, is commonly overlooked in the grocery store aisle, but it provides excellent nutrition that shouldn’t be ignored.  Quinoa comes in white, red, or black varieties, which allows you to add some color to some of your favorite meals.  Quinoa is one of the only grains to be considered a complete protein, which means it provides all of the nine essential amino acids.  Without these amino acids, our body struggles to maintain the growth and repair of our muscles.  Quinoa is also a good source of protein and dietary fiber*,  keeping you fuller for longer periods of time, which helps aid in weight loss.

In order to maintain good health, adequate consumption of vitamins and minerals is imperative.  Luckily for us, quinoa is one of the best sources of many micronutrients.  Quinoa is a good source of riboflavin and iron*, both of which are essential for red blood cell production.  Quinoa is high in magnesium and phosphorus*, which are respectively required for energy production and bone mineralization.  In addition, quinoa is a good source of thiamin*, which functions in the muscles and nervous system.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest that consumers make at least half of their grains whole grains in order to optimize health and prevent chronic disease.  But, with all this focus on whole grains, one might think, “what about those with Celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity?”  Fortunately, quinoa is naturally gluten free, making it a great way for those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to get sources of whole grain, protein and dietary fiber.

A great way to incorporate healthy whole grains like quinoa into my diet is making homemade soups.  Making Lemon-Quinoa soup is super easy, so delicious, and very nutrient dense.  Start by cutting up some fresh carrots, onions, and celery.  These veggies will provide you with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium and fiber.   Cook these vegetables in a low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth and bring to a boil.  Add your favorite variety of quinoa, any spices you desire (I recommend bay leaves, thyme, and basil), reduce heat, and cook for 15 minutes.  Add the juice of fresh lemon, and lemon slices to not only add some tang to this soup, but obtain some extra Vitamin C.  Serve hot and enjoy!

*per 2 ounces