Quinoa: An Ancient Grain for Modern Recipes!

2018-07-09T12:03:11+00:00By |Food|

Sometimes an old favorite recipe can be transformed just by changing one key ingredient. For the past 10 years, ancient grains have regained popularity with their different texture and long list of health benefits. Millet, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Teff and Quinoa are just some of the ancient grains that we now see in modern recipes. And of all these trendy supergrains, Quinoa is one of the most versatile for working into traditional recipes.

What happened to Quinoa historically?

Thousands of years ago, Quinoa was used as a staple food by the Incas, who referred to it as “the mother of all grains”.  It was only replaced by wheat, rice, and corn when the Spanish came into power in South America.  So for hundreds of years, Quinoa was only consumed by the indigenous population in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.

Today, it’s being used by world renown chefs to modernize classic recipes, transforming everyday menus into healthier gourmet dishes. Indeed, by substituting quinoa for couscous (wheat based) or white rice, you can not only give your dishes a heartier texture, but drastically increase their nutritional value.

What are the Nutritional Differences Between White Quinoa, White Rice and Couscous?

Nutrition Facts Cooked Quinoa (1 cup) Cooked Couscous (1 cup) Cooked White Rice (1 cup)
Calories per serving 222 176 169
Protein 8 grams 6 grams 4 grams
Fat 4 grams 0 grams 0 grams
Carbohydrates 39 grams 36 grams 37 grams
Fiber 5 grams 2 grams 2 grams
Sodium 13 mg 8 mg 9mg
Vitamin A 0% 0% 0%
Vitamin C 0% 0% 0%
Calcium 3% 1% 0%
Iron 15% 3% 1%
Glycemic Index Score 53 60 85

What is a glycemic Index Score? The glycemic index, or GI, is a rating system that shows the impact of carbohydrate-containing foods on blood sugar compared to pure glucose. Glucose, which significantly spikes blood sugar, has a GI score of 100. Using a scale of zero to 100, GI scores are separated into three groups — low, moderate, and high.

Any food with a score of 55 or less falls in the low-glycemic range, 56 to 69 puts it in the moderate-glycemic category, and 70 or above represents a high-glycemic item.

So, you can see from the chart above, that quinoa falls in the low-glycemic range, couscous falls in the moderate-glycemic category, and rice is in the high glycemic range. Quinoa, then, is the clear nutritional winner when comparing with these other side dishes.

Incorporating Quinoa into Classic International Recipes

These are a few of the best international recipes that incorporate quinoa and Kaniwa (baby quinoa). They span Italian, Asian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Mexican, and Cuban cuisine, and even include a delicious American Quinoa burger recipe!

Italian Quinoa Pizza

If you need a great gluten free pizza crust recipe, this one’s made with quinoa, and quite easy to make at home.

Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

This Italian classic is usually super heavy and starchy with Arborio Italian rice, but is made much lighter by using three coloured quinoa.

Sprouted Kaniwa Spring Rolls

These spring rolls can be made with sprouted quinoa or in this case with sprouted Kaniwa (baby quinoa). Did you know that Kaniwa has even more iron than quinoa?

Kaniwa Wrap with Sprouts

Sprouted Kaniwa (Baby Quinoa) Spring Rolls

Sushi with Quinoa

Using quinoa instead of rice will lower its the glycemic index, making it a healthier option.

Quinoa Sushi

Quinoa Sushi

 Stuffed Vine Leaves

These classic Lebanese stuffed vine leaves are transformed into a more gourmet starter by replacing the white rice with quinoa.

Quinoa Stuffed Vine Leaves

Quinoa Stuffed Vine Leaves

Quinoa Tabouleh

Using quinoa instead of couscous makes this Tabouleh gluten free without changing the texture and taste of the dish.

Quinoa Tabouleh

Quinoa Tabouleh

Quinoa Moroccan Soup

A hearty soup is always enjoyed on cold winter days.  This Moroccan Soup, sometimes called Harira Soup is a classic dish, but with a quinoa twist!

Moroccan Quinoa and Chickpea Soup

Moroccan Quinoa and Chickpea Soup

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

These stuffed peppers use classic Mexican ingredients such as black beans and corn.  We swapped the white rice with quinoa to lower the glycemic index in this dish.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa Tacos

Always a hit with kids!  Tacos are usually stuffed with meat, but these ones are stuffed with quinoa, making them a great vegan treat!

Quinoa Tacos

Quinoa Tacos

Cuban Black-Bean Quinoa Bowls

This recipe has all the classic Cuban flavors, but served with quinoa instead of the traditional white rice.

Cuban Chicken and Black Bean Quinoa Bowls

Cuban Chicken and Black Bean Quinoa Bowls

Quinoa Burgers

Quinoa is perfect to make vegetarian burger patties. Cafe Pasqual’s are absolutely delicious!

Quinoa Burger

Quinoa Burger

 

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