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Quinoa: properties, benefits and recipes


Quinoa: properties, benefits and recipes: all the info on the plant and its cultivation. How to cook quinoa and nutritional values.

There quinoa, known as the "sacred cereal of the Incas ", actually it's not a cereal! It belongs to the same family of spinach (subfamily of the Chenopodiaceae) even if its appearance - small yellow grains - resembles that of a cereal.

Quinoa: plant

Due to its characteristics thequinoais classified as agrain weight. It belongs to the Amaranthaceae family, subfamily chenopodioideae and is widely cultivated in different locations around the globe. Therequinoa plantit is appreciated in the Americas so much that the major producing countries are Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and the USA. Only recently its cultivation is spreading also in Europe and Asia.

It's about aplantannual herbaceous that reaches a height of between 1 and 3 meters. It has alternate, broad and polymorphic leaves with a central stem that differs in the number of branches based on the variety.

THE quinoa flowersthey are "panicle", small and without petals. Of theplantwe are interested in its fruit: a horticulture of about 2 mm in diameter that has lenticular seeds with abundant floury perisperm (the reserve tissue that will give life to the new plant or that will provide us with a good reserve of carbohydrates with food).

Quinoa: nutritional values

Therequinoait is very rich in vitamins (especially B and E) and mineral salts (iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus). The carbohydrates, composed almost entirely of starch, in quinoa make up on average 60 - 70%. It is a very important source of protein, it contains from 12 to 18% depending on the variety, moreover it is high quality vegetable protein: the protein ofquinoamanages to satisfy 90% of the amino acid requirements of adults. The lipid content is also significantly higher than other plant species: it is between 4.1 and 8.8%.

here are thenutritional valuesof theQuinoaas indicated, per 100 grams of product, by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture):

  • Calories: 368 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 64.2 g
  • Fat: 6.2 g
  • Protein: 14.1 g

Regarding the micronutreincts provided:

  • Vitamin A: 1 μg
  • Vitamin B1: 0.36 mg
  • Vitamin B2: 0.32 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.49 mg
  • Vitamin B3: 1.52 mg
  • Vitamin B9: 184 μg
  • Choline: 70 mg
  • Vitamin E: 2.4 mg
  • Calcium: 47 mg
  • Iron: 4.6 mg
  • Magnesium: 197 mg
  • Manganese: 2.0 mg
  • Phosphorus: 457 mg
  • Potassium: 563 mg
  • Sodium: 5 mg
  • Zinc: 3.1 mg

Other constituents: water, 13.3 g

Quinoa: calories

According toUS Department of Agriculture,100 grams ofquinoaprovide 368 calories. It is important to remember that information oncaloriesand onnutritional valuesthat we find online, in reality, always refer to raw food. 100 grams of quinoa hydrated by cooking (therefore 100 grams of cooked and unseasoned quinoa) provides 120 calories, a much lower quantity considering the hydrated weight of the food. In fact, cooked quinoa contains 72 grams of water.

Quinoa: properties

Therequinoait has a very interesting protein profile. The protein value made with thequinoait is very comprehensive and close to the average that FAO prescribes for human nutrition.

Among the amino acids of greatest interest we point out a good supply of lysine (important, among other things, for our central nervous system), arginine and histidine, these are essential amino acids especially for human development during childhood. .

It can be a food consumed, in complete safety, even byceliacsas thequinoa is gluten free.

The fats contained in quinoa are of good quality and have a high percentage of linoleic acid, a fatty acid essential for human nutrition.

Thanks to the good supply of magnesium, thequinoaimproves normal energy metabolism and supports our body in protein synthesis.

Quinoa: benefits

THEbenefitsof thequinoathey are not just physiological. This pseudocereal could guarantee food and nutritional security in the future and in the present, combating poverty and malnutrition in certain areas of the globe.

Taking note of thenutritional properties of quinoa, NASA has completed a study that sees this pseudocereal as a protagonist in long-term space travel. Quinoa would have everything in place and would be a possible candidate to feed humans in a "closed ecological system" like a spaceship can be!

In ancient times, quinoa was considered onemedicinal plant and still today it is used for hispropertyin different Andean areas. Among his benefits most exploited we can cite the alleged property anti-inflammatory that see the plant used as a remedy in case of abscesses and dislocations. By the Andean natives, the plant is still used today to counteract bleeding (property antihemorrhagic) and in local rituals.

Quinoa: contraindications

Quinoa has no details contraindicationsbut it is good to clarify some aspects concerning this pseudocereal.

Some varieties of quinoa have seeds covered with saponins, the saponins make the seed bitter so the plant can protect itself from predators (insects and birds). Saponins have a certain toxicity for us humans. Before marketing this fraction covering the seed is mechanically removed. Today, most of the varieties ofquinoagrown for food purposes are free of saponins and therefore safe for human consumption.

In many sites it is reported that quinoa has oxalates, another substance that could have a negative impact on the body, in particular on the renal pathways. In reality, oxalates are present in quinoa leaves and not in the seeds we feed on.

Therequinoatherefore, it does not present any detailscontraindicationsand if included in a balanced and varied diet, it is considered a safe food!

The only real ones contraindications they are linked to rare allergies to the seed of this pseudocereal.

Quinoa: cooking

To learn more about the quinoa there are several books dedicated topropertyand tocooking (recipes, uses, properties of the plant ...). By clicking on the titles of the books that we point out below, you will have access to the official Amazon page and you will have the opportunity to read the free extract.

- Quinoa in the kitchen, to dispel any doubts and be able to exploit all the properties of quinoa in the kitchen. Recipes, how to cook quinoa and tips to make the most of the properties of this pseudocereal. Content quality guaranteed as the book was produced by Slow Food in collaboration with FAO.

- Quinoa & C. - Cereals and non-cereals for your well-being, with characteristics, history and recipes based on quinoa. One of the curiosities revealed is that quinoa has even been evaluated by NASA as a very important resource for space travel due to its considerable protein content and richness in amino acids such as lysine, not contained in traditional cereals.

Quinoa: recipes

Therequinoait is not used only for the cookingdirect: toasted quinoa grains can be used to make flour. Quinoa can be added in a good fresh recipe (quinoa salad, rice and shrimp!), In a hot soup or used like other cereals for the production of pasta or even to be fermented and thus produce beer.

Quinoa flour can be used to make different types of bread (gluten-free bread), cakes and biscuits. If here in Italy its use as flour is not yet widespread, in Bolivia and Peru it replaces wheat flour in many recipes.

  • Quinoa soup, the traditional recipe.
  • Recipes with quinoa, authenticity guaranteed
  • Quinoa milk, vegan milk

In the photo below, a quinoa salad with tomatoes and oranges.

Quinoa: cultivation

There are more than 200 varieties of quinoa, including different subspecies and ecotypes, it is difficult to talk about the ideal growth environment of this plant. The different varieties have great ability to adapt to different environmental conditions.

“As for the climate, quinoa has adapted to different climates; from the hot and dry desert to the coast, from the dry cold of the highlands to the temperate and rainy climate of the Andean valleys, so it is necessary to choose the right genotypes for each of the atmospheric conditions. " (as reported on by Mujica et al. 2001). Even when it comes to lighting needs, the speech can vary, there are short-day, long-day or even photo-indifferent varieties. The ideal temperature to carry on onecultivation of quinoais 15-20 ° C.

As for the soil, quinoa prefers loamy, well-drained, organic matter-rich soils with moderate slopes and an average nutrient content. Harvesting is done when the plants have reached maturity. This work must be done early in the morning, taking advantage of the humidity of the night, to minimize the losses of seeds that would occur with completely dry plants (Mujica et al., 2001). After the harvest will follow the drying of the plant and threshing.

When sowing theQuinoa?

Considering the climate, thequinoait should be sown when the soil has a temperature ranging from a minimum of 10 ° C to a maximum of 18-20 ° C. The seeds germinate 24 hours after sowing and the seedling emerges from the ground after about a week. For more information: Quinoa, sowing


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