What is quinoa and where does quinoa come from?

Well loved for its nutrition, taste, texture, and culinary versatility, quinoa is a gem in the repertoire of gluten-free grains. A time-honored food staple of South America and an essential food of the ancient Incas, quinoa is packed with cultural significance and history.

Scientifically speaking, quinoa is a seed, but it’s commonly referred to in the generic sense as a grain, even as a “supergrain” because of its extraordinary health-promoting properties. From a nutritional perspective, quinoa can be considered near perfection. Similar to amaranth, quinoa has a good amount of protein, packing 6 grams of protein per 1⁄4 cup serving. Quinoa contains all eight amino acids, making it a complete protein.

These beautiful seeds, found in black, ivory, and red, expand to a volume four times their original size after cooking. Easy to cook and digest, quinoa will broaden your culinary horizons on a gluten-free diet. Its versatility will make your gluten-free food adventures exciting if you like its unique taste and texture.

Often compared to Couscous (gluten!), quinoa cooks up light and fluffy like rice and can be substituted for any number of dishes. From soups and salads to side dishes, casseroles, and main entrees, quinoa will provide you with an abundance of creative options. Experiment! Try substituting quinoa for bulgur wheat in tabbouleh recipes. Or use quinoa for savory pilafs.

Quinoa flour is becoming more widely used in gluten-free baked goods. Look for quinoa flour in prepared baked goods and try to incorporate quinoa flour in your baking at home. Not only is this flour a nutritious option, it has favorable baking properties when you are looking to help replicate the gluten-effect.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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