The scoop on Quinoa

Monday, December 15, 2008 12:16 PM | Deleted user

After Liam turned 6 months, my interest in grains has all of a sudden peaked, even though I have always attempted to avoid them. How will he get nutrients in his food? What are some good recipes? What new foods do I introduce to him?

The mom of a beautiful 6-month old shared her recipe with me - Quinoa. Having never heard of it, I turned to my recipe portal - Google. Turns out, Quinoa is a Super Grain.. Driven by excitement, I made a trip to Ambrosia (on Doncaster) the same day. With a great selection of organic grains (sold in bulk), and friendly staff, who opened the store binder and showed me nutrition information and cooking directions, I am now one step closer to having an idea of what to feed Liam in the coming months.

So to those mommies who are wondering the same question, here is some information:

Quinoa is a wonderful grain that just in the past few years has been rediscovered. It was a staple in the diet of the ancient Inca Indians. Actually, quinoa is not really a grain. It is the dried fruit of the herb family Chenopodium. However, it looks like and acts like a grain, and so is used that way.

Quinoa is truly a "supergrain" because of the wonderful nutrition it offers. For minerals it contains more iron than other grains, has high levels of potassium, riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, copper and folacin. It is a great source of protein. Unlike other grains it contains plenty of the amino acid lysine, as well as the other essential amino acids, so it provides complete protein. It is a great kid food, not only because of these nutritional benefits, but because of its light flavor.

Some delicious ways to serve quinoa are in a pudding such as rice pudding, or as a hot cereal in the morning cooked in fruit juice. Add it to soups or stews at the end of the cooking time, or make a cold grain salad out of cooked quinoa by adding raw or cooked veggies and herbs and tossing with a light dressing. Make quinoa pilaf with raisins, carrots, onion and garlic.

When cooking ground quinoa "powder" for homemade baby cereal, use about 1/4 cup of powder per 1-2 cups of water - more or less as you see fit. The key is to whisk whisk whisk as you are cooking to avoid clumping! Add pureed fruits and vegetables to baby's homemade quinoa cereal - ensure that you have followed the 4 day wait rule!

Most grains will need to be combined with complimentary proteins such as nuts, beans or dairy. However, another grain that will provide you with a complete source of protein is spelt. It is very popular in Europe, and in the U.S. it is now found in many breads. It is especially popular among those with a wheat allergy, since although it does contain gluten, it is extremely fragile so many wheat-sensitive people can tolerate it.

Quinoa (1 cup cooked)

Vitamin A - 0 IU
Vitamin C - 0 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) - .33 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - .67 mg
Niacin - 4.98 mg
Folate - 83 mcg
Contains some other vitamins in small amounts.

Potassium - 1258 mg
Phosphorus - 697 mg
Magnesium - 357 mg
Calcium - 102 mg
Sodium - 36 mg
Iron - 15 mg
Also contains small amounts of manganese, copper and zinc.

Protein - 22.27 g


  • Tuesday, December 16, 2008 8:30 AM | Joanna
    My family and I have been fans of quinoa for a long time. I'm so glad you found this supergrain as an alternative to ready-made cereals. May I also suggest AMARANTH as another interesting and delicious grain to try.

    Link  •  Reply
    • Wednesday, January 07, 2009 5:45 AM | Deleted user
      Hi Joanna, thanks for the information - I'll be trying Amaranth too :)

      Link  •  Reply

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