Now recognized as the world's most nutritious grain, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for more than 5,000 years. As a whole grain, this seed-like South American fruit is unique. Quinoa has about twice the protein of other grains, fewer carbohydrates, and more healthful fats. It's also a complete protein: like meat, eggs, and dairy products, it contains all eight essential amino acids. This supergrain is gluten-free and rich in iron, calcium, potassium, fiber, and lignans. A 2007 study at Osaka City University in Japan found it high in antioxidant activity too, making it exceptionally heart healthy.
Choose It & Use It Find quinoa in natural food stores or supermarkets. Enjoy its delicate, nutty flavor in sweet and savory dishes; enrich it by toasting first. Substitute quinoa for pasta, couscous, rice, or oatmeal: simmer 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups liquid 15 to 25 minutes for 4 cups cooked. Quinoa's chewy texture enhances pilafs, salads, and stews, and contrasts crunchy nuts nicely. Rinse it before cooking, and remove any black grains.