There are around 120 species of quinoa plants and over 1800 varieties available around the world.
Quinoa originated in the mountains of the Andes over 5000 years ago, especially in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. It grows in even harsh and arid conditions unsuited to most crops.
Quinoa is often classified based on the color and the most common variety is the ivory or white quinoa. The color of quinoa grains varies depending on the saponin (a chemical compound) content in it.
White quinoa has a mild, sweet and subtle flavor, similar to white rice, unlike its darker cousins which have an earthier and fruitier flavor.
Most people who wish to incorporate quinoa in their diet will start with white quinoa since its mild flavor is easier to adapt to and it can combine with almost any vegetable, meat, sweet or spice to make tasty dishes.
White quinoa can be purchased at all local supermarkets, health and organic food stores. Usually it will be pre-soaked so check the labels. Remember to wash it well before using.
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Nutrition values of white quinoa
The first thing that you will read about when finding out the nutritive values of white quinoa is that it is a complete source of protein, containing all required amino acids.
It is also an excellent source of folate, fiber, carbohydrates, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, iron and several phytochemicals.
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 white quinoa
White quinoa is a great source of proteins for vegans and vegetarians. Being gluten-free, it is an ideal source of nutrition for those with celiac disease and other gluten-intolerance conditions.
The high protein and fiber content means that it helps with weight loss, by making us feel fuller for longer periods. Iron content improves transportation of oxygen in the body and increases stamina and energy levels.
It is low in fats, especially bad unsaturated fats. Hence, it can help maintain cholesterol levels.
It helps with tissue repair, maintains strong bones and muscles, can prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. High manganese content means that it can keep blood sugar levels normal and help in maintaining strong and healthy bones. High niacin content lowers blood cholesterol levels.
It contains fewer calories than brown rice, which is considered a healthy food.
Various ways of cooking white quinoa
Being the most easily available quinoa type, white quinoa is used to cook a variety of different foods:
- Porridge can be made using white quinoa. Just cook it with milk, raw honey and raisins for five minutes. Add chopped almonds, stewed plums and honey and you soon have a nutritious, tasty and filling hot porridge.
- Salads can be made using white quinoa combined with roast butternut pumpkin. Mix the pumpkin and white quinoa with sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic. Finally add olive oil, feta, and lemon, blanched green beans and caramelized onions.
- Risotto can also be made using white quinoa, brown rice, tomatoes, vegetable stock and garlic.
- Beef brisket is a delicious filling meal. Now, use white quinoa in this dish along with vegetables and other garnishing and make a great dish.
- Rice pudding can be made using white quinoa instead of the traditional white rice. This provides more nutrition and is also filling. You also require milk, cinnamon and vanilla bean for this recipe. It can be served with fresh fruits like sliced peaches or mangoes.
You can find detailed recipes for these and other ways to cook white quinoa online.
Precautions and Conclusion
There are not too many precautions to be observed when eating white quinoa.
It produces little or no side effects. Precautions must be observed by those who need to avoid oxalate for it does contain small quantities of this.
Saponin content is high in white quinoa and this can prove toxic if not removed. Most quinoa sold in stores is said to be free of saponins.
However, to err on the side of caution, give it a couple of thorough rinses before cooking it. This will completely remove the saponin. Taste a few grains and if there is no bitter taste, then all the saponin has been removed.