If you have walked down the supermarket aisles or picked up a health magazine at any point in the last couple years.
Chances are you have seen a number of things being referred to as a “superfood.”
Everything from vegetables, to fruits, to grains, nuts and everything else in between.
There is one critically acclaimed superfood that deserves some serious recognition.
It’s a small little grain that resembles bird food more than human food, it spirals slightly when cooked and has a mild nutty flavor.
Any idea as to what it is?
If you guessed quinoa, then you are correct!
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wa, is an ancient food that originates as far back as 5,000 BC in Peru and Bolivia.
Though it is commonly referred to as a grain, what we consume is the seed from the quinoa plant.
In fact, it’s part of the goosefoot family, related to leafy greens such as Swiss chard and spinach. 
There are three main categories of quinoa typically found in supermarkets, white, black and red. Since it is not technically a cereal grain, it is called a pseudo-cereal. 
Don’t let the size fool you.
Unlike many plant foods that lack certain essential amino acids, such as lysine, quinoa is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine of the body’s essential amino acids.
Along with containing 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and a number of other nutrients, this pseudo-cereal is also gluten-free and non-GMO. 
The health benefits are continued when we look at quinoa in terms of the glycemic index.
It is proven that foods that are on the high end of the glycemic index can contribute to obesity by stimulating hunger.
And are typically linked to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 
Falling at a score of 53, quinoa is on the low side of the glycemic index however it is decently high in carbs.
So it should be consumed moderately for those following a strict low-carb diet.
So, Don’t Carbs Content Make it a Bad Choice?
You would think that due to its 39 grams of carbohydrates per serving, quinoa would be a disaster for those trying to lose a few pounds.
Luckily, this isn’t true!
Since it is a whole-grain food, its digested more slowly than refined grains such as white rice.
As a result, you feel fuller longer, and your blood sugar remains more stabilized throughout the day, reducing a fluctuation in energy and concentration levels.
Reasons Quinoa is Considered a Super Food
Positive Effect on Metabolic Health
One study has shown that by consuming quinoa, it can reduce insulin levels, blood sugar and triglyceride levels. 
It’s suggested that this is due to its high protein content, which boosts metabolism and reduces appetite.
The high amount of fiber also contributes to overall levels of satiety and results in less total calorie consumption. 
Can Prevent Osteoporosis
Quinoa contains high doses of magnesium, which is a main deficiency in the Western diet due to the over-consumption of processed foods.
By increasing your magnesium intake, you are significantly reducing your risk of osteoporosis, ensuring a lifelong journey of health and fitness. 
Packed with Antioxidants
I told you, this grain is amazing! 🙂
Antioxidants help neutralize damaging free radicals in the body and help combat diseases and signs of aging as well as protecting the heart, pancreas, lungs and heart.
Quinoa has one of highest antioxidant content compared to its grain and legume counterparts. 
Many researchers agree that chronic inflammation in the body can lead to a number of chronic illnesses and disease, including asthma, cancer, arthritis, lupus and more.
One nutrient found in quinoa is saponins, a component known for its functional use to preventing and even treating inflammation! 
Also found in quinoa is phenolic acids, vitamin E and polysaccharides, all great inflammation fighters. 
Helps with Digestion
Thanks to its high percentage of soluble and insoluble fiber, quinoa is great at aiding in digestion.
This can provide relief to those who suffer from digestive disorders such as diverticulosis or hemorrhoids.
Additionally, it can help rid the intestines of unwanted “gunk,” resulting in weight loss and weight management for those with digestive issues.
Quinoa Recipes For Weight Loss
One of the best things about quinoa is how easy it is to incorporate into your diet!
This superfood can be used in so many recipes whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Most quinoa brands benefit from being rinsed prior to consumption, due to its naturally occurring outer layer which can cause the seeds to have a bitter flavor.
To cook quinoa, simply follow a 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain and boil!
For example, boil 2 cups of water or broth in a pot and add 1 cup quinoa with a dash of salt (optional).
Boil for 15 – 20 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed and the quinoa has fluffed up.
If cooked correctly, the quinoa should have formed a slight spiral shape and there will be a mild flavor with a nice crunch.
Here are some great ways to incorporate quinoa into your everyday diet.
1. Blueberry Chocolate Chip Quinoa Pancakes
This recipe from Ambitious Kitchen is guaranteed to please the whole family!
They’re simple to make and absolutely delicious.
Nutrient-packed and sweet enough to make anyone devour them up. Find the recipe here.
2. Cinnamon Toast Quinoa Bowl
Similar to your favorite oatmeal bowl, this breakfast looks beautiful and provides you the hearty start to power through your day!
Add as many toppings as you would like to give it your own personal flair.
- ½ Cup Quinoa, Rinsed
- 1 Cup Vanilla Almond Milk, Unsweetened
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- Dash of Nutmeg
- Dash of Vanilla Extract
- Sliced Almonds
- Coconut Flakes
- Fresh Fruit
- Maple Syrup
- Combine quinoa, almond milk, vanilla and spices in a pot and being just to a boil.
- Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 12 – 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit for an additional 5 minutes until all the milk is absorbed.
- Top with your favorite ingredients!
Calories: 343 | Fat: 7.7 grams| Carbs: 44.5 grams | Protein: 13 grams
3. Quinoa Snack Bars
These are a great alternative to sugar-filled granola bars!
These are easy to make and they can be stored in an airtight container for 4 – 5 days, making it great grab-and-go breakfast or snack.
- 1 ½ Cup Oats
- 1 Cup Quinoa, Cooked
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ Cup Brown or Coconut Sugar
- ¼ Cup Almond Butter
- 2 Tablespoon Flax Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
- 5 Teaspoon Water
- 2 Ripe Bananas
- 1 ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ¼ Cup Chocolate Chips
- ¼ Cup Dried Cranberries or Blueberries
- ½ Cup Dried Coconut
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Line 9×9 pan with parchment paper.
- Mix together all dry ingredients, except the flax, chocolate chips and dried fruit.
- In a small bowl, combine flax and water and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Mix in the vanilla, banana and almond butter.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips and dried fruit.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cooked.
- Let cool and cut into squares.
Calories: 150 | Fat: 5 grams | Carbs: 21 grams | Protein: 6 grams
4. Chilled Vegetable Quinoa Bowl
Vegan, healthy and tasty! It’s a win-win-win.
This bowl is loaded with protein and a lot of vegetables so you can have a filling, guilt free lunch.
- 1 Cup Vegetable Broth
- ½ Cup Quinoa
- 1 Bell Pepper, Diced
- 1 Tbsp. Garlic
- ½ Cup Brocolli, Steamed
- ¼ Red Onion, Chopped
- ½ Tomato, Diced
- 3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Cook quinoa in vegetable broth until fluffed.
- While cooking, mix together lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt + pepper.
- Once cooked, combine the quinoa, veggies and lemon juice mixture.
- Serve chilled.
Calories: 526 | Fat: 18.4 grams | Carbs: 42.5 grams | Protein: 24.4 grams
5. Quinoa Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
A must try recipe!
This is a beautiful dish that is almost as beautiful as it is delicious. You can find the recipe at Simple Real Health website.
6. Quinoa Crusted Nuggets
Yep. Even adults love chicken nuggets, don’t try to deny it.
These juicy chicken bites are coated with quinoa instead of breadcrumbs to add some nutritional value and cut out some unhealthy carbs and empty calories.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- 3 – 4 Chicken Breasts, Boneless + Skinless, Cut into Small Strips
- 2/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 Cups Quinoa, Cooked
- Salt + Pepper
- 3 Eggs
- 3 Tablespoons of Water
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper and flour.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and water.
- In a third bowl, place the quinoa.
- Dredge the chicken first in the flour mixture, followed by egg and quinoa. Place on greased sheet.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until browned.
Calories: 395 | Fat: 8.7 grams | Carbs: 42.5 grams | Protein: 38.5 grams
7. Quinoa Chicken Curry Bowls
Need a little spicy flair in your diet? Look no further.
This recipe will help satisfy your heat-loving taste buds while making your heart just as happy. Get it from Pinch of Yum.
Calories: 315 Fat: 8.9 grams | Carbs: 32.6 grams | Protein: 23.7 grams
Other Ways to Enjoy Quinoa
- Add to Your Burger: By adding 1 cup of quinoa to 1 pound of ground meat, you have four servings of filling deliciousness. For vegetarian alternatives, add 1 cup of quinoa to 1 cup of beans!
- Add to Your Salad: Chilled quinoa is a great mix-in to any salad. Use it as a base to have it absorb the delicious veggie flavors.
- Add it to Soups/Chili: It’s all about the texture, right? Mixing this grain into your stews and chili will add fiber, protein and little bit of a pallet change.
- Substitute Your Rice: To mix things up, substitute rice in any recipe for quinoa.
- Substitute Half Your Flour: Quinoa can be ground into a flour to be used in baking recipes. You can usually use half the amount that the recipe calls for and the other half use regular flour. (Without any regular flour, your dish won’t rise)
GO AHEAD AND TRY THEM!
Quinoa is one ingredient that should not be overlooked in the pantry.
It can easily be added to a number of your everyday dishes to add some extra oomph and nutritional value.