Quinoa…an amazing gluten-free alternative to rice!

I have a ton of friends who are allergic to gluten, and had heard from one of them about Quinoa a couple of years ago, but it was super hard to find where I lived in Boston…now I can find it in every supermarket I go to, and it is a staple of my diet.  I must say, I make amazing black bean and rice, which I always made with brown rice, but now I always put atop a bed of quinoa.  I was under the impression that everyone knew about this amazing south american treat, but out to dinner with friends the other night, I asked them about it and they had never heard of it, so I wanted to give so nutritional facts about this gluten-free alternative to rice (which also happens to be in the spinach family, randomly enough).

Its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetariansvegans and athletes (actually, probably everyone due to the other contents listed below!!). Unlike wheat or rice, which are low in lysine, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source, and super good for you!  It also is a great source of dietary fiber and phosphorous, and is high in magnesium and iron.  And, as I said before, it is gluten-free and considered very easily digested by the human body.

(cooked red quinoa…see the little curly tails?  That means it’s cooked!!)

Quinoa is light and fluffy after being cooked, and has a mild nutty flavor (don’t worry those of you who are allergic to nuts as I am, it is not even closely related to the nut family) and can be used as an alternative for rice or couscous, and also can be made into a flour to be used for gluten-free baking.  A suggested mix is three parts quinoa flour, three parts sorghum flour, two parts potato starch, and one part tapioca starch, for  gluten-free baking mix!!

I really urge you guys to try it, it is a great alternative to other carbs for dinner (i.e. rice, potatoes, couscous) because it also has a great mix of protein and vitamins/minerals, and you can always spruce it up with some spices and steamed veggies (one of my favorite side dishes), and it is so yummy on its own, you don’t need to laden it with butter to taste good.  One more quick step to a healthier meal!!  So, give it a try, and tell me what you think!

Yours in Good Health