In the search to find healthier foods, one will inevitably come across quinoa. This odd-looking grain is gluten-free and one of the few plant foods to contain high levels of all 9 essential proteins. This makes it a complete protein.

The list of health aspects of quinoa also includes being low in fat, high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium, and most importantly fiber. Though it does have a high level of net carbohydrate, the nutritional benefits of quinoa make it a food that should not just be discarded as a worthless high-carbohydrate item.

The stats for quinoa breakdown like this. One cup of cooked quinoa contains:

  • Calorie: 222
  • Carbohydrates: 39 grams
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA
  • Folate: 19% of the RDA
  • Copper: 18% of the RDA
  • Iron: 15% of the RDA
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDA
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6, calcium, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.

Obviously, quinoa has many health benefits, but we need to know how to use it.

Quinoa is cooked just like any other grain. It can simply be boiled in water, vegetable broth or cooked with the liquid in whatever recipe it is included in. Quinoa can be eaten plain— just like if you were to eat rice or pasta. It can be cooked in less than 20 minutes.

Some recipes use quinoa in breakfast porridge or on salads. My family uses quinoa in a few recipes that are considered some of our favorites. Mexican Quinoa is a mix of black beans, corn, jalapeños, tomatoes, and avocados. While being a healthy meal on its own, it doubles as a great side dish as well.

When you’re wanting a meat substitute, quinoa can come to the rescue. In a nacho recipe, I use quinoa instead of ground beef in taco seasoning. After the quinoa is cooked in a mixture of water and veggie broth, it is seasoned with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and diced tomatoes. Then the quinoa mixture is baked until lightly fluffy and somewhat crispy.

My next adventure with quinoa will be an attempt to make “meatballs.” I would love to find a healthier version of the classic spaghetti and meatballs dish—yum.

Quinoa is a delicious and versatile grain with many nutritional benefits. There are many fun and delicious ways to incorporate it into our diet. It is not considered a low-carbohydrate food but in no way does that mean we should overlook it, unless you or someone in your family suffers from difficulties with carbohydrate digestion.

If you are feeling up for making some changes in your life, start with something as small as quinoa. It’ll be a tasty first step!