The Mystical Grain That Is Quinoa

Words: Katrina Rose Wind

I remember as a child my Peruvian mother would try to force me to eat quinoa (it’s pronounced Keen-Wah for all you folks that aren’t sure) and I would run away in horror and scream ‘I’M NOT HUNGRY’ from another room. What a shame that my taste-buds hadn’t fully developed yet; to think of all that quinoa I missed out on is truly a pity. What I didn’t know then is that this grain is a superfood. It’s high in fibre and high-quality protein. This grain contains more iron, fibre, and minerals than any other grain out there.


This naturally gluten-free grain originates from South America, more specifically from the Andean highlands of Peru, Chile, and Bolivia. It’s technically a seed, or a pseudo-cereal, but it has the same consistency of a grain when cooked. Lower-income households have been consuming this protein-rich grain for kiloyears. The Incas used to refer to it as the ‘mother of all grains’ and it was considered a gift from the gods. Peru is the largest producer and exporter of the grain, exporting approximately 52 million kilograms in 2017. According to the United Nations, quinoa is the key to humanity’s food security. This ancient crop’s popularity only continues to increase in consumption among health-conscious eaters.


Nutritional Information & Health Benefits


You may have heard that quinoa can help aid in weight loss. Although there is no food that can magically help you shed the kilos this grain can potentially help. This grain is high in fibre, around 10-16 grams of fibre per 100 grams. Unfortunately, most of the fibre is insoluble, that being said, 100 grams still contains around 2.5-3 grams of insoluble fibre. Still higher than all other grains. Diets rich in fibre can help you maintain or lose weight. This is because fibre-rich foods help people feel fuller and satisfied for longer, reducing your overall food intake.

Protein And Amino Acids

This superfood is also high in protein, higher than most plant foods. In 100 grams, there is 4.4 grams of protein. This grain also has a wide range of amino acids, in fact it has all nine. When proteins are digested, what’s left are amino acids. They are vital for supporting the immune system, this is often why protein and amino acids are referred to as the building blocks of life. If you lead a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, then this can be an excellent source of protein.

Important Minerals

Enough iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium intake is important for improving your energy, muscle metabolism, as well as your overall well-being. Magnesium helps maintain muscle function and keeps the heartbeat steady among many other benefits. There is about 64mg of magnesium in 100 grams of quinoa. There is about 1.49 mg of iron, as well as 172mg of potassium. Consuming enough potassium is important because it can help reduce blood pressure and can help regulate water retention as well as nerve signals. Zinc is important for growth, your metabolism, and can reduce the possibility of getting some age-related diseases. Quinoa has about 1.09 mg of zinc in about 100 grams, which is quite high in comparison to other grains.

Naturally Gluten-Free

If you’re gluten intolerant, celiac, or are trying to lead a gluten-free lifestyle then you will be happy to know that quinoa is naturally gluten-free. It’s also a slowly-digested carb, making it a great low GI option, which helps with helps control your blood sugar levels. It’s still heavy in carbs, albeit unprocessed carbs, so maybe think twice about eating too much of this grain if you are trying to live a low carb lifestyle.

raw quinoa

Common Mistakes When Cooking Quinoa

People often make some pretty foolish mistakes when it comes to cooking quinoa. It’s no wonder you sometimes hear people saying that they’re not a fan of this delicious grain. We are about to open your eyes to these simple mistakes so that you can make the best possible quinoa at home.

Forgetting to rinse it

Never cook quinoa straight out of the bag. There is a coating on the grain called saponins, which can make the taste of quinoa bitter. Some people are actually sensitive to this compound so it’s best to rinse it, even if it already has been pre-rinsed. Don’t forget to use a very fine strainer or you stand the chance of losing a lot of these tiny guys down the drain.

Overcooking it

Cooking quinoa is faster than most people think, so you need to be somewhat vigilant while cooking. For one cup of quinoa, you use 1.5 to 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, this only takes about 15 minutes.

Skipping the resting stage

After the quinoa is done, you have to drain it. That is, of course, if you’re only using plain water to cook the quinoa in (more on that in the next section). After draining it, you need to return quinoa back to the pan and then cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes. This is to avoid the quinoa becoming too wet or clumpy.

How To Cook The Perfect Quinoa

Most people think that quinoa needs to be cooked with plain water, this could be the reason why you get quinoa-haters. Quinoa doesn’t have to taste boring! A pro tip to cooking quinoa is to replace plain water with chicken or veggie stock. Not only will it taste even better but it will give this delicious texture that will fill you up even more quickly. Some may even say that it almost tastes like risotto.


We’ve compiled a list of four different quinoa recipes that are easy to make at home. Expect to change your mind about quinoa!

quinoa recipe
quinoa recipe

Beetroot, Quinoa Salad With Butternut, Feta and Rocket.

We’ve used Rugani 100% beetroot juice to prepare the quinoa, so an alternative to using stock. The juice gives it a fabulous jewel-like colour but it also enhances the whole dish with the earthy flavour of delicious beets.

Get the Recipe for this Beetroot Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Paella With Rocket

Quinoa is a great replacement for rice, you get to have all that goodness with a delicious meal to boot. This recipe has varied flavours of calamari, chorizo and fennel.

Get the Recipe for Quinoa Paella

quinoa recipe
quinoa recipe

Beautiful Brunch Quinoa Bowl

Why not start your day right with a bright and colourful bowl of quinoa! It’s full of protein and healthy fats. Delish!

Get the recipe for this Brunch Quinoa Bowl

Garlicky Marinated Haloumi Cheese With A Roasted Tomato Quinoa Salad

Haloumi cheese and quinoa in one dish? Heaven on Earth! This recipe definitely is not only easy to make, but it’s also tasty and healthy!

Get the Recipe for this Garlic Marinated Haloumi and Quinoa Salad

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