Quinoa: know the benefits, recipes and how to consume

Quinoa is a very nutritious food, considered the most complete within the vegetable kingdom. It is even compared to breast milk, for its nutritional value and diverse properties.

As if it were not enough, it became a favorite food even by NASA, as it was selected as one of the fundamental foods within the diet of astronauts on long-term space flights.

So far we already have a beautiful curriculum of this grain, however, the benefits go beyond. Because it contains significant amounts of iron, protein and is gluten-free , it is an essential ingredient in the lives of many people who want to make their meals richer.

For these qualities, it is indicated for people looking to lose weight, anemic, celiac and also for those who adhere to vegan or vegetarian diets.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa is a plant that had its origin in the Andes region, with records of being used by the Incas. They referred to quinoa as the “golden grain”, as they considered it a sacred food.

Sacred or not, we must admit that it is very important within a balanced and healthy diet, in addition to being a good substitute. This is because it can be used to replace soy in oil production, corn for biodiesel and wheat for flour.

In addition, it can be a variation for the traditional rice and beans of Brazilians, as it can replace rice in food.

It is a food from the same Amaranthaceae family , the same as from spinach. If you watched Popeye’s cartoon, this one is familiar to you.

Another quality of the grain is the fact that it does not contain gluten, which can be used to enrich the diet of celiac people, that is, allergic to gluten.

It also contains a significant amount of quercetin  and Kaempferol antioxidants . These not-so-familiar names are also called flavonoids.

These are very important micronutrients for our health, responsible for benefits associated with anti-inflammatory, antiviral and even related to the prevention of cancer and depression .

Some studies show that the concentration of these flavonoids can be higher than those found in red fruits like cranberry , famous for its antioxidant actions.

This golden grain also shows good results as an off-season crop. Unlike other native species, quinoa is more resistant to pests and diseases than other crops and plants.

As for the preparation, rest assured, it is not a beast with seven heads. In addition to several recipes that include this grain, it also yields. It is only necessary to wash the quinoa very well, as it contains saponin.

You will notice that, in the process, a lot of foam will be produced. Because it contains detergent properties, this becomes something characteristic of this substance.

Saponin, in fact, is a substance that can make this food taste more bitter and bad on the palate. Washing under running water, rubbing the beans with your hands, will be enough to make the quinoa very clean and ready for recipes.

Below, it is possible to compare the nutrients that quinoa offers in relation to other cereals that are also part of our diet, considering for all items a quantity of 100 grams:

Quinoa:

  • Calories: 335 Kcal;
  • Proteins: 15g;
  • Iron: 9.5mG;
  • Calcium: 112mG;
  • Carbohydrates: 68g;
  • Fibers: 5g;
  • Total fats: 5.7g;
  • Potassium: 1040mG.

Oat:

  • Calories: 389 Kcal
  • Proteins: 17g;
  • Iron: 4.7mG;
  • Calcium: 54mG;
  • Carbohydrates: 66g;
  • Fibers: 11g;
  • Total Fat: 7g
  • Potassium: 429mG.

Rice:

  • Calories: 130 kcal;
  • Protein: 2.7g;
  • Iron: 0.2mG;
  • Calcium: 10mG;
  • Carbohydrates: 28g
  • Fibras: 0,4g;
  • Total Fat: 0.3g
  • Potassium: 35mG.

However, these quantities may vary. Quinoa has a large amount of seeds and there are variations among them that interfere with your nutritional table.

To give you an idea, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization considers this semenet one of the most complex foods.

The name quinoa means “maternal grain”. The grain, which is very common in countries like Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, is so special that in Bolivia it won its own year: the International Year of Quinoa.

This happened in 2013, as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said that the role of quinoa was extremely important for world food due to its nutritional value. It is not for any grain.

properties

Quinoa has many properties and it is not surprising that the Andean people considered the grain of gold. Having this food within a healthy and balanced diet implies receiving good amounts of the following nutrients and their respective benefits:

  • Amino acids : it has 20 types of amino acids, including 10 essential for our organism such as Histidine Isoleucine, Leucine, Methionine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine and Arginine;
  • Proteins : presents large amounts of proteins, which is positive for those who practice physical exercises to gain muscle mass;
  • Fiber : because it contains good amounts of fiber, it is good for those who suffer from intestinal problems, such as a lazy intestine. In addition, it helps in the absorption of cholesterol and glucose;
  • Vitamins : contains vitamin A, which is beneficial for eye health, as well as vitamins B1, B2 and B3, which assist in the proper functioning of the central nervous system, B6, associated with inflammatory processes, and E and C, antioxidant vitamins , which protect cells from natural damage, such as aging itself;
  • Phytoestrogens : they alleviate the symptoms of PMS and menopause, as they are substances that simulate the actions of some hormones;
  • Energy value : each 100 grams has an energy value of 335 calories. For those who are on a weight loss diet, it should be consumed in small quantities;
  • Calcium : helps to strengthen bones and prevents diseases related to wear and tear, such as osteoporosis and also prevents hypertension.

Benefits of quinoa

Some changes in our habits allow us to be in control of some situations. With our health it can be like that too.

Nobody thinks it’s cool to be sick and hospitals are more interesting in some American TV shows. Real life is different.

It is certainly not a rule. Even leading a healthy life, we are subject to some disease. It’s pretty normal. However, we can try a few things, such as enriching our diet.

Thinking about it, let’s get to know quinoa and its benefits. The golden grain, as it was known by the Incas, can be an ally in the prevention of some diseases, such as hypertension, osteoporosis , high cholesterol, anemia and immunity. Understand:

Muscle strengthening

Quinoa contains large amounts of protein and therefore can help people who exercise to strengthen their muscles. In addition, it is a healthy food and will bring other benefits besides that.

However, in terms of calories, for those who want to lose weight, it should be considered as a substitute for another food. For example, between rice and quinoa, prefer quinoa as a carbohydrate source, but not both, as quinoa has a higher caloric value.

Prevents cardiovascular disease

Quinoa is a very important food to prevent cardiovascular diseases, as it contains significant amounts of Omega 3 and 6, a strong ally against possible diseases that damage the heart.

In addition, including it in your diet can help reduce bad cholesterol, another positive point in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Helps in strengthening bones

You may have heard, at some point in your life, how much calcium is good for your bones and how important it is to have foods rich in this mineral in your diet.

If so, don’t ignore this valuable advice and put quinoa on the list of these foods. That way, in the long run, you will be preventing your body from diseases like osteoporosis.

Assists in diets for muscle hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy diets aim to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat. Simply put, for this to happen to our body, it is necessary to combine some essential elements such as physical exercise, specific nutrition and quality sleep.

Quinoa obviously goes into the food part. People who want to increase muscle mass need significant amounts of protein and quinoa is quite a complement.

In addition to being an alternative to animal protein, quinoa has a higher amount of protein compared to some foods, such as soybeans, in wheat and rice.

Relieves PMS symptoms

PMS, or Premenstrual Tension, is the acronym that brings together several symptoms of a common and normal period in the life of most women.

There are, of course, women who do not show changes in mood and body when they are between the days before menstruation and even on those days, but for many this period of the month can be a nightmare.

The best known symptom of PMS is mood swings, often used in stereotyped contexts. However, the signs go further. Women in PMS may also experience headaches, leg pains, anxiety , tiredness , swelling, tenderness and swelling in the breasts, among other discomforts.

Quinoa has amounts of phytoestrogens that help to reduce these symptoms, so it should be consumed by women who suffer so much these days.

It is also indicated for women who are going through menopause , when the symptoms presented are also not good, such as hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, hair loss and changes in mood.

Helps fight anemia

Anemia is a very common condition in medicine and it happens due to the insufficiency of one or more essential nutrients for our body, which leads to the reduction of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the blood.

Thus, it is more diluted and the hemoglobin content is impaired, below normal. Red blood cells, also known as red blood cells and erythrocytes, are responsible for carrying oxygen through the bloodstream.

When something is out of the ordinary, this transportation is impaired. The person when anemic presents symptoms such as lack of appetite, pallor, apathy, cramps, chest pains, fatigue , indisposition among other signs.

The type of iron deficiency anemia , caused due to iron deficiency , is very common . In these situations, quinoa is very important, as it contains valuable amounts of iron, being superior to beans.

Therefore, when facing anemia or to avoid it, use quinoa as an ally. Recalling that the consumption of the grain does not replace a consultation with a doctor for the best treatment.

It’s good for immunity

Immunity is our body’s natural defense against possible diseases. When it is low, we are more susceptible to disease. Colds and flu are very common when our bodies are not strengthened.

Healthy eating helps our immunity to remain strong and quinoa is one of the foods with this power. For this and other reasons, it should be part of our menu.

Improves memory

Quinoa has Omega 3, a fat that is good for our health and our memory. Studies show that people who have low fat diets are more forgetful and with little concentration. So, if you want to preserve your memory, be sure to include this grain in your diet.

Quinoa lose weight?

Quinoa is a great option for the diet of those looking to lose weight for several reasons, one of which is its power to speed up metabolism.

With the metabolism accelerated, we already have a great basis to move forward with the diet, because that way the body will burn more easily the fat stored in our body.

This acceleration happens due to the amounts of proteins that the quinoa presents. So, here is a good food for those who want to gain muscle without losing weight and for those who just want to eliminate a few pounds that are left over.

What will be different is the quantity. If you plan to lose weight with quinoa, don’t overdo it. Despite having several health benefits, such as its protein value, this grain has great energy value.

Thus, only the consumption of quinoa will not be miraculous. To lose weight it will be necessary to measure the quantities and combine food with exercise.

Another positive point of quinoa for those who want to lose weight is the fact of providing greater satiety, due to the fibers it contains.

Quinoa also contains tryptophan, the amino acid responsible for the synthesis of serotonin , the neurotransmitter related to the feeling of well-being and mood.

Among the various ways to consume quinoa, one is to add one tablespoon a day to meals. Flour, in these cases, would be one of the best options, as it can be used in juices, fruit salads and even in complete meals, such as lunch or dinner.

Quinoa in grain

Like most grains, quinoa also yields. If you have ever prepared rice, lentils or any other grain, you may have noticed that these foods swell and the amount when raw seemed much less. Quinoa is also like that. When cooking a cup of quinoa, once cooked, the amount will triple.

It is important to understand this aspect, to prepare quinoa or any other food, to avoid waste. Knowing this point, we will know how to prepare it.

To cook this grain it is necessary to place it in a pan with boiling water and a little salt. The amount of water should be double the amount of quinoa. If you are preparing a cup of quinoa, you will need two cups of water.

Cook the quinoa for 15 minutes and remove from heat. Then, just sift. Once cooked and properly sieved, you can keep it in the fridge for up to three days.

Do not exceed this limit, as there is a validity for cooked food. After this period, consuming them can cause side effects, such as stomach pains.

Quinoa can be used to replace rice as well as it can be used to increase stews, salads, soups, stews or even to replace kebab flour in recipes such as tabbouleh and the kebab itself.

Flaked quinoa

Flaked quinoa is used in many recipes and contains all the same benefits as grain quinoa.

It is widely used to enrich other foods such as fruit salad, vitamins , yoghurts, in the preparation of breads and cakes – replacing wheat flour – and for detoxifying juices. That is, it is a great addition to breakfast meals.

However, it is not only breakfast that benefits from flaked quinoa. There are many recipes with this ingredient, such as soups, broths and risottos.

In addition, it is excellent for gluten intolerant people and followers of vegetarianism and veganism, as it is a source of protein.

Quinoa flour

Quinoa flour can be used as an option to soy flour, being the basis for recipes for cakes, breads, cookies and pasta. Some pancake and pasta recipes are made with this type of quinoa.

You can find quinoa in supermarkets and health food stores already in flour, but it is also possible to make it at home, turning the grain into flour.

In addition to being a simple process, buying quinoa grains and then turning it into flour, generally has a lower cost, since it is sold at a higher price.

For this, it is necessary to use a processor to beat the quinoa grains until they turn into a powder and it is ready. It only takes care to store properly.

O ideal é deixar a farinha em um pote bem fechado, em um ambiente sem calor e umidade. Normalmente, as embalagens contém 250 gramas. Na hora de processar o grão para virar a farinha de quinoa, basta decidir qual a quantidade que julga necessário.

Essa farinha tem um gosto mais acentuado que as farinhas mais comuns, como de arroz, linhaça e aveia. Por isso, para algumas receitas, para que não se tenha um estranhamento do sabor, é possível introduzir a quinoa aos poucos.

Por exemplo, receitas de pães e bolos que pedem 2 xícaras de farinha de trigo, utilize apenas ½ xícara de farinha de quinoa para substituir na quantidade total, assim o sabor da quinoa não fará muita diferença no resultado final, apenas nos valores nutritivos.

In day-to-day recipes, like rice and beans, a dessert spoon of quinoa flour is enough and will not change the flavor.

For breakfast, quinoa flour is a good option to accompany fruits, and can replace oatmeal.

How to consume quinoa

Quinoa is a very versatile ingredient and can be embraced by several recipes, to be consumed in any of the meals of the day. Check out some ideas:

In juices

Adding a spoonful of quinoa flour in juices or vitamins will give these drinks a good dose of iron, zinc, proteins, calcium and the other properties of the fruits used.

Often, when in the form of juice, fruits end up losing a lot of fiber. Quinoa, in this way, will help to replenish this nutrient. It is a great option for those on a diet.

Salads

Quinoa can be used to make salads even more nutritious. It is possible to use it as grain or flour.

One option for using quinoa in salads is to prepare the tabbouleh , a Lebanese salad. The recipe is very simple:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (tea) of quinoa in grains;
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped;
  • 1 diced tomato, without skin and seeds;
  • 1 medium onion, chopped;
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley;
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped mint;
  • 1 lemon juice;
  • 1 teaspoon of salt;
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

The first step is to wash the quinoa very well, under running water, so that the saponin layer is removed. To make sure it is completely clean, it is recommended to rub the beans by hand.

To find out if quinoa is free of this substance, a test is to prove it is still raw. If it has a bitter taste, typical of saponin, it is because it is necessary to wash a little more.

After this step, bring the quinoa over medium heat together with 2 cups (tea) of filtered water. Leave for 25 minutes, with the pan partially closed. It is necessary for the water to dry. After turning off the pan, reserve the beans in a bowl and allow to cool.

When the quinoa is cold, mix all the other ingredients, stir well and refrigerate. When serving the tabouleh, leave it for a few minutes outside the refrigerator, so that it rests at room temperature.

With yogurt

With yogurt or milk, quinoa is an excellent complement to reinforce breakfast. Whole grains can be eaten as cereal, along with milk or yogurt.

With the amounts of fiber present in this meal, you will have an improvement in intestinal flow, as well as a feeling of satiety for a longer time.

Replacing flour

As already mentioned, quinoa is a great option to replace wheat flour in some recipes. It is possible to integrate it in breads, cakes and cookies. In addition, it can be an alternative to bread meats, such as fillets.

In most recipes, one has to consider the one-to-one ratio. If the original recipe calls for two cups of wheat flour, the ideal is to put a cup of wheat flour and a cup of quinoa. However, this is not a mandatory rule.

Check out a recipe for whole grain bread with quinoa flour :

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa flour;
  • 2 cups of warm water;
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder;
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour;
  • 1 and ½ cups of white wheat flour;
  • 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour;
  • 2 teaspoons of salt;
  • 2 tablespoons of honey;
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

In a bowl, mix the yeast and water and leave aside for five minutes. Add wholemeal flour and quinoa flour to the bowl and stir well. In sequence, place the ½ cup of white flour, the gluten flour, salt, honey and olive oil and mix until you get a homogeneous mass.

Use the rest of the white flour little by little, until the dough comes off the sides of the container. On a floured surface, knead the dough until it is very elastic. Knead well and then let the dough rest, in the same bowl. Cover and wait until it grows. The dough will likely double in size.

On the same surface where you knead the dough, add a little more flour so that you can divide the dough into three parts.

With each part, mold in the shape of a baguette and place on greased form. Make a few cuts over the dough and place to bake in an oven at 220ºC. Leave the dough in the oven until the breads are golden brown and it is ready.

With fruits

Use quinoa to accompany fruit salads. It is a good option for the afternoon snack and also for people who are on a diet.

It is also indicated to be consumed after physical exercises, because fruits are great sources of carbohydrate and protein quinoa.

No rice

Quinoa can replace rice within meals, but it can also be eaten with it.

When cooking rice, put some of the quinoa beans in the pan. This will make you more nutritious.

Just remember to wash the quinoa very well before introducing it to the rice, so that the saponin does not leave the meal bitter.

For those who are undecided about the taste, rest assured. Quinoa will not interfere with taste.

Prices and where to find

It is possible to find quinoa (powder, grains and flakes) in supermarkets, health food stores and physical and online stores.

The price may vary depending on the region in which it is being consumed, however, the average price of a 200 gram quinoa package varies between 10 to 15 reais.

In some virtual stores the price per kilo is more affordable, considering the quantity, but this does not include freight rates.

There are also some products that take quinoa as an ingredient, such as cereal bars and even within the composition of products for hair care, such as shampoos, conditioners and masks.

Common questions

The golden grain arouses many curiosities, as it is a complex food. Check out the most frequently asked questions:

Does quinoa have more iron than beans?

Yes, quinoa has a higher amount of iron than beans. For you to have a notion, each 100 grams of quinoa has 10.9 mg of iron and the beans, considering the same amount, presents 3.7 mg of iron.

A diet rich in iron provides many benefits and they start with our blood. It is this mineral that is responsible for forming hemoglobins, the blood molecules that transport oxygen through our body, it is also the one that gives blood the red color.

Iron is also important to maintain good immunity, in addition to being good for hair, nails, skin, to regulate sleep, to reduce the feeling of tiredness, among other benefits.

Quinoa is very suitable, for this and other reasons, for vegetarian and vegan people. Other foods that have good amounts of the mineral, in addition to quinoa and beans, are chickpeas, soybeans, spinach and pumpkin seeds .

What is the ideal daily amount?

There is no exact amount of what would be ideal, the need may vary from person to person.

It is recommended to eat at least 4 tablespoons per day (approximately 100 grams). Even better when associated with foods rich in vitamin C, so that our body increases its absorption of the nutrients present in quinoa.

Without a doubt this grain is nutritious and having it in the diet is something positive, however, it should be consumed in moderation and intercalated with other types of grains, within a balanced diet.

Are you in doubt if you are consuming the right amount? Do not hesitate to seek advice from a nutritionist. That way you will arrive at the appropriate portion of how much to ingest this grain.

Who can consume quinoa and who cannot?

In general, there are no contraindications regarding the consumption of quinoa, which can be ingested by children, the elderly, adults, pregnant women, nursing mothers, vegetarians and celiacs. Any type of person can consume quinoa in its natural form.

It is strongly encouraged to be consumed by poorer populations, so that they obtain in this food the essential properties for good health, trying, in a certain way, to “close the gaps” of a food poor in varieties. It is not ideal, but it would be of great value.

Although there are no specific groups that should avoid this golden grain, nutritionists and doctors recommend that it should not be consumed in exaggeration. Just as it should be with all other foods.

In addition, when we talk about quinoa that goes through some industrialized processes, such as to become flakes or flour, some points must be noted.

For example, quinoa grains do not contain gluten, but it can happen that when passing through the production processes the grain comes into contact with other foods with gluten.

Thus, celiac people should pay attention to the information contained in the packaging before consuming.

One should also consider the possibility of people allergic to the grain, although rare. Quinoa has a substance called saponin. When grains are not washed properly, this substance remains in the food and can be toxic to the body.

Within this aspect, there is no need for major concerns. Obviously, in the face of a suspected allergy , it is necessary to consult with a doctor before starting to ingest the grain or to continue consuming it.

However, it is believed that when food is properly prepared and washed it does not present risks and this substance is not present, as it dissolves in water.

Still on discussions about whether there is a risk for certain people, some research has recently discovered, in quinoa, quantities of oxalates, a substance present in many foods, which is associated with the formation of kidney stones.

In such cases, people who suffer from this condition should avoid consuming the quinoa in excess.


In grain, flakes or flour, quinoa has many benefits. In addition to being a food rich in nutrients such as protein and iron, it can be used in various dishes, giving variation in several recipes and not leaving out all the benefits of quinoa.

Share this text with your friends and family and show them how it is possible to soften PMS, lose weight, gain muscle mass and take good care of your heart health, all in a single grain of gold.

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