7 Good Reasons to Start Using Quinoa ...

If you haven't heard of quinoa, you've probably been hiding under a rock somewhere. So, what's the big deal about this so called "superfood". Let Casey, our fabulous guest contributor convince you!

Quinoa has been labelled a ‘superfood’ and if that didn’t make me cautious to try it then all the different ways you can buy it sure did. Flakes, flour, seeds, puffs and not to mention the multitude of colours available (although some very hard to find) – what do you do with it? Why is it being touted as the next big thing? Each type is great for something and here’s why I think that they might just be right when they say ‘superfood’.

1. It’s Packed Full of Protein

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With roughly 8-10g of protein per cup of cooked Quinoa this little super seed beats out most other grains and even rivals some meats for protein levels; and it isn’t just the amount of protein provided that makes it so special, oh no, this type of protein is made up of all 8 amino acids our body needs for a great protein balance. (Suite101 Health and Wellness, 2013)

2. Wheat and Gluten Free

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For all those out there living with coeliac disease, wheat allergies or even just someone who wants to cut back on gluten then Quinoa is a wonderful alternative to cook with. Not only can you buy it in flour form but you can grind the seeds into your own and use it to bake delicious things.

3. It’s Chock Full of Vitamins and Minerals

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I already mentioned the protein but in 1 cup of cooked Quinoa you can expect to find: 5g of fibre (20% RDI), Folate – Vitamin Bs (20% RDI), 31mg Calcium, Magnesium (30% RDI), Phosphorous (28% RDI), Iron (15% RDI) and Manganese (almost 60% RDI). (MotherNatureNetwork, 2011)

4. It’s Quick and Easy to Cook

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Cooking Quinoa (regular seeds) is just like cooking rice and takes about the same amount of time depending on the amount you’re cooking. Rinse off your seeds and for every 1 cup of Quinoa you put in the pot place 2 cups of water. Bring it to the boil, cover and simmer – stirring occasionally – for about 15 – 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Ta da!

5. Quinoa Flakes Are Delicious to Bake with

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Love baking? Love making and/or eating some delicious chewy chocolate chip oat cookies? Want a way to not feel so guilty about it? Substitute your oats for Quinoa flakes! Yes, you may be putting in all the other same ingredients (although there isn’t any reason not to substitute sugar for natural sweeteners) but Quinoa is so packed full of healthy goodness that you can feel happy knowing that you’re still getting a decent dose of nutrition in each one of those yummy chocolaty cookies.

6. On Its Own Its Pretty Bland

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You may be thinking ‘Great, Casey! Just what I’ve been looking for, something new and bland to try,’ but the fact that it is so bland is what makes it so versatile! Add some coconut milk, spice it with some cinnamon, chuck in a heap of vegetables and herbs and make a side dish with a difference. You can do just about anything with it from turning it into a dessert to putting it in salad!

7. It’s Great for Vegetarians

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It can be a struggle for vegetarians sometimes to get all of the nutrition and vitamins they need each day, especially for those picky eaters out there, and so Quinoa is a great addition to a meal that means they’re less likely to have to go and down a few iron, fibre and protein supplements before bed each night.

So, have I tempted you? It really is nutritious and delicious and if you aren’t sure about it you can just head into your local health food store, grab a small amount and give it a try. I guarantee you’ll find something to do with it that you’ll love!

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