Quinoa…the Powerfood!

Quinoa imageQuinoa – Powerfood

Pronounced Keen-wah. Quinoa is thought to be a grain but it is actually a seed related to spinach, beetroot and silverbeet.

Quinoa’s history: The quinoa plant is native to the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia and Chile on the continent of South America. Many types of quinoa, particularly wild quinoa grow today in South America. Quinoa has been cultivated as a crop for over 5000 years. Archeological evidence suggests it may have been cultivated in this same region for 9,000 years.

Quinoa has been a staple food of the South American Indians living in high altitudes of the Andes Mountains. It is one of the few crops that could survive in high altitudes (10,000 – 20,000 feet above sea level). It earned the name, “mother of all grains” due to the fact that it has unparalleled nutritional qualities. It is a whole food and can also withstand frost, intense sun and often drought conditions that are characteristic of the Andean climate.

Benefits of Quinoa

1. Contains 9 essential amino acids, magnesium, iron, vitamin E and B and B2 and it is a complete protein. It has more protein than rice, millet or wheat.

2. Great source of riboflavin. Riboflavin improves the energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells and demonstrates the ability to reduce the   frequency of attacks in migraine sufferers.

3. Inca warriors considered it a powerfood. They consumed quinoa seed to achieve more stamina and quicker recovery time.

4. The saponins from Quinoa can be used as an antiseptic to promote healing of skin injuries.

5. Naturally low in fat. Contains only 172 calories per 1/4 cup dry (24 of the calories from protein and only 12 from sugars. The rest are complex carbs, fiber and healthy fats).

6. Gluten-free. It is not a grain.

7. Alkaline-acid balanced and leans towards alkaline-forming. It is comparable to wild rice, amaranth and sprouted grains.

8. Complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index. It will not spike the blood sugar.


Seven Tips for Eating or Cooking and a wonderful recipe for Quinoa Cakes

  • Quinoa contains a soapy residue called saponins. Always rince quinoa several times with cold water before cooking.
  • White, red and black are the three main varieties. All have the same nutritional value, however the red and black are said to have a stronger flavour.
  • Quinoa porridge is a wonderful, nutritional breakfast, add it to a salad for lunch, substitute it for brown rice with veggies or make a delicious quinoa pudding.
  • Use quinoa flour for gluten-free baking.
  • The leaves of the quinoa plant are edible…similar to spinach.
  • It is always best to soak quinoa (and all seeds) overnight before cooking or sprouting.
  • In Peru quinoa is popped like popcorn and it is very popular…worth a try!



A great fun way to eat quinoa; these cakes are delicious and not hard to make. They’re good plain or with a pesto or sweet chilli sauce of choice.  Adding avocados is tasty too!  Salsa is also good on top.

4 eggs, well beaten
½ cup red onions, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, tiny dice
2 cups quinoa, rinsed well and pre-cooked
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded, sharp white or orange
¼ cup parmesan, fresh, shredded
1 teaspoon (or more) fresh garlic
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Dash pepper
¼ cup spelt bread crumbs
1/3 cup Coconut, Rice Bran or Grape Seed oil. These are the best oils for heating.

  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly in bowl.
  • In frying pan, heat oil to medium heat.
  • Spoon quinoa mixture into pan in small patty amounts.
  • Cook until brown on edges – about 5 minutes.
  • Serve sauce on the side.