In 1987, a pair of farmers decided to plant quinoa in their farm in Colorado. They hoped that the conditions in their high San Luis Valley of Colorado could mimic conditions of the Andes and they could grow this plant in the US. A few years after their experimental planting, they found that a whole new plant variety, taller than traditional quinoa with deep-purple seed heads was growing. The traditional quinoa seed had somehow crossbred with lamb’s quarter a North American grain and the result was black quinoa. Hence as a result, a new variety of this very nutritious food was born in Colorado.
Black quinoa apart from the darker hue has a crunchier texture with a strong flavor compared to white quinoa. Black quinoa has an incomparable taste but is not easily available. You can find it in limited farmers markets and on the Internet. Many chefs consider it a unique culinary experience.
Black quinoa cooks quickly although it has slightly higher fiber content. The unique black color is due to the presence of anthocyanins that prevent UV damage and oxidation of the plant. Anthocyanins are also said to protect the body against free radicals, chronic diseases, heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc.
Nutrition values for black quinoa
Black quinoa provides similar nutritive benefits as other types of quinoa. It is a source of complete protein, containing all the amino acids required by the body. Apart from this it contains B vitamins, dietary fiber, vitamin E, iron, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.
Quinoa is also rich in manganese, copper and folate. It has small quantities of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. It has greater quantities of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats compared to grains like wheat.
The following is a nutritional profile of cooked quinoa.
For a serving size of 185g
- Calories 222
- Calories from fat 32
- Total fat 4g (16% DV)
- Saturated fat (0% DV)
- Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium 13mg (1% DV)
- Total carbohydrates 39g (13% DV)
- Dietary fiber 5g (21% DV)
- Protein 8g (48% DV)
- Vitamin A 0%
- Vitamin C 0%
- Calcium 3%
- Iron 15%
DV refers to percent daily value that is based on 2000 calorie diet. Each person’s DV will vary depending on daily needs.
Benefits of black quinoa
Black quinoa also contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Since it is gluten free, it is a good source of protein for those with gluten intolerance and who avoid dairy products like vegans.
Since it has a high nutrient content and is low in fats, quinoa can be substituted for white grains that have high carbohydrate content. It offers numerous health benefits and can treat a range of health conditions like breast cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes. The high protein content means that it can act as a building block for muscles. Another advantage is that it is an easily digestible food. Hence, the nutrients are quickly absorbed by the body.
Recipe for a delicious dish using black quinoa
Black quinoa is said to retain its crunchy texture even after cooking. It can be used in a range of dishes that require the use of whole grains. Hence whether you want a sweet or savory dish, breakfast, lunch or snack, want to combine it with herbs, mix in broths or simply add to a stir-fried vegetable dish, black quinoa is a versatile grain.
The following is a recipe for making a black quinoa salad (Thai Style). It is typical of many Asian-style cuisines for it combines a great blend of sweet and salty, tart and spicy.
- Black quinoa – 1 cup (rinse well)
- Water – 2 cups
- Red pepper – 1 diced
- Mango – 1 (stone, scoop and dice)
- Green onions – 3 sliced
- Cilantro – ¼ cup chopped
- Mint – ¼ cup chopped
- Bird’s eye chili – 1 chopped
- Fish or soy sauce – 2 tbsp
- Brown or palm sugar – 2 tsp
- Sriracha – to taste
- Juice of 1 lime and zest
- Peanuts – 1/3 cup chopped
- Coconut flakes – 1tbsp toasted
Cook black quinoa in water for at least 15 minutes until it is tender and the water has been fully absorbed. Remove and leave aside for 5 minutes. Mix it with mango, pepper, onions, mint, cilantro and chili in a big mixing bowl. Separately combine the fish/soy sauce, sriracha, lime juice, zest and sugar in another bowl. Toss the salad and dressing together well, place in a serving bowl and top up with coconut flakes and peanuts.
Precautions and conclusion
Quinoa contains saponins that can be toxic if consumed. Most stores sell quinoa free from saponins. Even so, always wash quinoa a few times under running water before using it to get rid of all the saponins. Soaking it before use can also help get rid of saponins. Taste a few grains before cooking. If it does not have a bitter taste, then it is free of saponins.
Quinoa also has small quantities of oxalate. So, anyone who needs to avoid oxalate must exercise caution before using quinoa. Otherwise it is a safe, healthy and highly nutritious food. Hence, if you enjoy the taste of black quinoa, check out all the recipes available online and enjoy its benefits. When mixed with the right ingredients, it tastes delicious.