When I’m talking to people about quinoa I always ask this question: “If you could only take one food with you to the moon, what would you take?” Most people respond with their favourite food – chocolate, apples, coffee, or bacon. But my response is always quinoa. Because quinoa truly is a super-food!
The Super Qualities of Quinoa
Quinoa is one of the most nutrient rich foods on Earth and provides such a wide variety of nutrients that you could eat almost nothing else and still get most of what you need. And it’s not really a cereal grain at all – it’s a member of the same family as spinach, swiss chard and beets! Quinoa is also naturally gluten free.
Most grains are lacking in one specific amino acid, lysine and most legumes lack methionine . But quinoa has both these amino acids in abundance, making it a complete vegetarian protein.
Quinoa is a source of the omega 3 essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Cooking quinoa doesn’t seem to negatively impact the quality of the fatty acids in quinoa, and the fatty acids are relatively stable to oxidation – likely due to the vitamin E content of the quinoa.
Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients
Quinoa contains vitamin E, folate, copper, phosphorus, manganese and zinc in good quantities. It also has a wide spectrum of B vitamins.
Quinoa contains twice the amount of calcium of whole wheat and is a source of serotonin-boosting tryptophan.
And did you know? 2013 has been officially declared the International Year of Quinoa by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Celebrate with my favourite quinoa recipe: Vegetarian Quinoa “Fried Rice” in Spicy Peanut Sauce. Easily made vegan by omitting the eggs. Enjoy!
Vegetarian Quinoa “Fried Rice” in Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 large eggs, scrambled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
8 mushrooms, diced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 zucchini, chopped
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn
2 carrots, julienned
3 cups cooked quinoa
½ cup peanut butter
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup hot water
1 tbsp sriracha chili sauce (to taste)
Combine peanut butter, rice vinegar, hot water and sriracha. Mix until smooth, set aside.
Scramble two eggs. Set aside.
Heat coconut oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Add garlic and onions, stir frequently until onions become translucent (4-5min).
Add mushrooms, broccoli and zucchini. Cook until heated through (1-2min).
Add corn, carrots, peas and quinoa. Cook until heated through (1-2min).
Add prepared peanut sauce, combine thoroughly. Top with scrambled eggs.
Serve and enjoy!
Dr. Lisa Watson is naturopathic doctor practicing at IHI. She has a special clinical interest in pre-natal health and kids & teen care. Look for more of her writing on her personal website,