Quinoa is naturally gluten free and very easy to digest. Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Colombian Andean civilisations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%-18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans. 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.
Quinoa is a good source of dietary fibre and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights!
Looking for a different grain? Try our Real Foods Guide to Grains for some old favourites and new ideas.
Want to find out more about Quinoa? Here's our guide to getting the most from the grain How Do I Cook Quinoa.
Quinoa is very popular for use in risotto-like dishes as it picks up the flavours of spices and vegetables very easily, it's also popular in warm salads and as a side dish. Try stirring through nuts, seeds or spices to give it a bit of kick.