The Incas called quinoa, their staple, "mother grain". It is traditionally grown in terraced fields in Peru, Equator, Bolivia and now in America. It thrives in poor soil, arid climates and mountainous altitudes.
Quinoa is not a true grain but it looks like one and has similar uses. It is related to leafy vegetable such as spinach. Its foliage can be cooked.
The grain itself is small, ivory in color and bead shaped.
Nutritionally, quinoa stands out because it is higher in protein than other grain and it is a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
As it is not a true grain, it is not low in lysine.
Quinoa has a delicate taste and light flavor. It can be used in any dishes instead of rice.

Forms of Amaranth
There is only one kind of quinoa, which can also be ground into flour.

Basic Cooking Instruction
It can be substituted for rice in many recipes, reducing the cooking time without sacrificing the nutritional content of the meal.
Quinoa is cooked much like rice but faster. It turns quickly into a light fluffy texture.
It is better to rinse it before cooking to remove residue of saponin. Saponin is a natural insecticide; it is a coating that protects its seeds from birds and insects.
You can steam it in twice its volume of water for about 15 minutes. The grain will become translucent and the germ has spiraled out from each grain.
You can brown the grain in a dry skillet for 5 minutes before simmering or baking it to give it a delicious roasted flavor.
It can also be used like craked wheat or bulghur, offering a light, fluffy alternative grain for Middle Eastern dishes such as tabouleh or pilaf.


100 g of raw quinoa provide
Proteins 13 g
Fats 6 g
Carbohydrates 70 g
Fibre 6 g
Main nutrients
Calcium 60 mg
Iron 9 mg
Potassium 740 mg
Phosphorus 410 mg
Zinc 3.3 mg
Magnesium 210 mg
Thiamine 0.2 mg
Riboflavin 0.4 mg
Niacin 3 mg


Quinoa pudding
100 g cooked quinoa
250 ml of soymilk
4 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine cooked quinoa, milk and honey in a saucepan.
Stirring, bring to boil over low heat and reduce heat.
Add cinnamon and beaten egg. Stirring quickly.
Add vanilla.
This may be served immediately, or poured into a covered casserole and served later, when it will be slightly thicker.

Realized by Laurence LIVERNAIS-SAETTEL, dietitian
© Copyright L. Livernais-Saettel 2002
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