Why Quinoa is the Perfect Meal Shaper
Ranking as a top “superfood” as of late, quinoa has the spotlight.
 
You can bet the hype creates high expectations. This food, in fact, has a name that’s derived from a Spanish word that translates to “the mother of all grains”.
 
Does it live up to the name? You betcha!
 

What Makes Quinoa Great?

Many love quinoa and for all different reasons:
  • It’s great to cook with,
  • It’s gluten-free,
  • It’s nutrient-rich, and
  • So much more!
 
To be frank, you should give quinoa a serious look before disregarding what it can offer you. Check out some of its many benefits below to better understand why it has everyone raving and calling it one of the greatest superfoods of all time.
 
1. Quinoa is Very Nutritious & Super Filling
 
A cup of cooked quinoa weighs 185 grams and contains 222 calories, 39g of carbs (5g fiber), 4g fat and 8g protein. This serving size also contains a high amount of magnesium (118mg, 30% of DV), phosphorus (281mg, 28% of DV) and iron (2.8mg, 15% of DV).

Every 1/4 cup of dry quinoa inflates to a full cup of cooked quinoa. Thus, it quadruples in size -- for comparison purposes, rice roughly triples. Nutritiously dense foods that are rich in complex carbs and also vegan-friendly are hard to find.
 
Quinoa is one of those rarities; it’s not only a snack either,  it’s a whole meal on its own. Not a believer? Ask NASA — astronauts receive packets of quinoa to consume during their long-duration space flights. They stay full and healthy because of quinoa’s superfood traits.

2. Quinoa is Low GI / Diabetes-Friendly
 
White rice has a 72 GI reading while quinoa comes in at 53, only two lower than oats. Meanwhile, quinoa contains a higher level of fiber than most other types of grains. Other, lower GI grains include barley (25) and bulgur (47), but they're known to be less tasteful and not as nutrition-dense. Barley is great too though — in fact, it contains almost triple the amount of fiber that quinoa offers.
 
3. Quinoa Helps with Common Deficiencies
 
We all know the hardest thing about being vegan is making sure your intake of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals stay in line every day. Any nutritional deficiency can make way for many serious health issues. For beginners, not staying properly fueled can make sticking with a vegan diet much harder as well.
 

Thankfully, quinoa is rich in some nutrients that vegans often lack in their diets.
 
Amino acid
 
Quinoa is classified as a complete protein and contains 11 of the 20 different amino acids that the body needs on a daily basis. The foods that are richest in amino acids include eggs, chicken, beef and seafood.
 
For vegans, quinoa is one of those rare complete protein sources that’s worthy of a recommendation. Avoiding an amino acid deficiency reduces your risk of anemia, nausea, muscle, bone and joint pain, risky blood sugar level fluctuations and weak immunity.

Iron
 
Vegans tend to take in too much manganese which lowers your body’s ability to absorb iron. Eating more iron-rich foods and taking in vitamin C with these meals can help prevent a manganese-related iron deficiency.

Quinoa contains 15% of your daily iron needs and is usually combined with other iron-heavy foods like chickpeas and lentils. Also, lemon juice and red peppers are two great sources of vitamin C to include in your quinoa meals. 

Phosphorus
 
Foods that contain high amounts of protein are rich in phosphorus. As most vegans already know, finding protein-rich staple foods is no easy challenge. It’s hard to deny, and reports back it up — vegans and vegetarians are the biggest offenders of protein-deficient diets.

To make matters worse, the phosphorus found in vegetables is never adequately absorbed. You need to consume this mineral along with a protein-rich food and quinoa is exactly that. A phosphorus deficient diet can cause anxiety, bone pain and fragility, chronic fatigue, joint stiffness and even weakening of tooth enamel.  
 

Quinoa is a Superfood - But That’s Not All

Chefs love quinoa for its versatility. You can shape all kinds of meals, both hot and cold, with quinoa as the base ingredient.

You can serve a cold quinoa salad. Mix in chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onions, etc. This super tasty concoction is easy and fun to make. Plus, it’s rich in many other vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
 
Prefer a hot meal? Quinoa goes great with scallions, corn and honey butter dressing. Put it in a creamy caprese bake with a vegan substitute for the heavy cream — such as coconut cream and you have a large meal that’s perfect for an entire family.
 
Some other examples of popular vegan-friendly quinoa meals include:
  • Black bean quinoa burgers
  • Broccoli quinoa casserole
  • Quinoa stuffed peppers
  • Quinoa vegetable soup
You can also seek out vegan recipes that call for couscous or rice to get some more ideas of unique ways to cook with it.

Conclusion

Few vegan-friendly foods can serve as primary ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Quinoa is one of those rarities and deserves recognition from everyone in the vegan community. If you don’t already have it in your diet, by all means — start testing some vegan quinoa-based recipes out and see what you think. As the saying goes “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”, most that do are sold on it from their very first meal.