Quinoa is a grain that was cultivated in the ancient Incan Civilization in countries such as Chile, Bolivia and Peru. It grows well in many climatic conditions like arid areas, high altitudes or soil with high concentrations of salt, sand and clay. There are many types of quinoa and these are usually categorized based on climatic conditions in which they grow. While there are many hues of the quinoa grain, the most commonly used ones are traditional quinoa that is a pale ivory shade and a dark red variety called Inca red quinoa.
Red quinoa was eaten by Inca warriors who felt that it gave them added energy and strength when they were out at war. They worshipped the red seeds. This is why to this day this is sold as ‘Inca Red Quinoa’. While red quinoa ranges in color from vivid orange to dark red, when cooked it loses coloring, turning brown. Red quinoa has an earthy and fruity flavor. There are higher levels of phenolic compounds found in red quinoa. It is sold pre-packaged in supermarkets or natural food stores.
Since it retains its shape even after cooking, it is ideal for use in cold salad recipes.
Nutrition values of red quinoa
You can get at least 200-350 calories in a single cup serving of red quinoa. Similar to other types of quinoa, red quinoa is rich in proteins, containing all the essential amino acids. In a 1-cup serving, you can get 9g proteins, 5g fiber content and 20g carbohydrate content. The quantum of nutrient content depends on the brand of red quinoa. Red quinoa is also rich in magnesium, manganese, copper, iron and phosphorous. It contains high quantities of lysine an essential amino acid.
The following is the nutrient content in a single cup serving of ‘Ancient Harvest Inca Red Quinoa’.
- 652.0 calories
- 12.0g total fat
- 0.0g saturated fat
- 0.0g polyunsaturated fat
- 0.0g monounsaturated fat
- 0.0mg cholesterol
- 20.0mg sodium
- 0.0mg potassium
- 116.0g total carbohydrates
- 6.0g dietary fiber
- 20.0g sugars
- 24.0g protein
Benefits of red quinoa
It helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Lysine found in red quinoa helps with tissue repair and growth. High protein and fiber content in red quinoa delays gastric emptying and hence keeps you feeling fuller and more satisfied than white rice. Red quinoa provides a rich source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. Red quinoa provides us with 10% daily value of iron, it is low in fat and contains only healthy unsaturated fat that helps to keep cholesterol levels low and helps maintain heart health. The iron content is used by the body to transport oxygen.
Since it is gluten-free, red quinoa suits those who cannot eat gluten-rich foods and who avoid dairy products. The high manganese content helps to regulate blood sugar levels and maintain strong and healthy bones. It is easy to digest and can make a good diet for diabetics too for it contains a low glycemic index.
Avocado and Red Quinoa Salad
The following recipe is a delicious combination of avocado and red quinoa.
- Red quinoa – 1/3 cup
- Water – 2/3 cup
- Cherry tomatoes – 1 cup halved
- Cucumber – ½ cup diced
- Red onion – ¼ cup diced
- Lime juice – 2 tablespoons
- Ground cumin – ½ tsp
- Baby spinach leaves – 2 cups
- Avocado – 1 peeled, pitted, sliced
- Salt and pepper
Rinse red quinoa thoroughly before cooking. Add to water and bring it to the boil. Cover and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Check if the quinoa is tender. This could take 15-20 minutes. Place in a bowl, spread it out and refrigerate it.
When the quinoa is cool, stir in the cucumber, tomatoes and onions. Season this with cumin, lime juice, pepper and salt (to taste). Combine them well. Spread the spinach leaves on salad plates and scoop out the chilled salad on top. Top up with avocado slices before serving.
Precautions and conclusion
Saponin content in red quinoa can be toxic if not removed. Most stores sell red quinoa that is free of saponins. Even so, it will be sensible if you place quinoa seeds in a sieve and wash it well under running water to get rid of any additional saponin. Taste a few grains before cooking it. If there is no 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.
Other than these minor considerations, quinoa is well tolerated by almost everyone as long as they do not over eat it. So, enjoy new and nutritious recipes that include red quinoa in them.