Quinoa Nutrition: A Plant-Based Powerhouse

Quinoa Nutrition: A Plant-Based Powerhouse

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a plant-based, protein powerhouse. It's naturally gluten-free, contains all nine essential amino acids, and is high in fiber and nutrients. It's not surprising that quinoa nutrition is rising in popularity.

This seed-producing flowering plant comes to us from the Andes in South America, where it has long been cultivated by the Inca. Botanically, it's not a grain. In fact, it's more related to spinach than it is to rice. But it's cropped, prepared and consumed like a grain.

Once processed you have a small, light-colored, round seed, sometimes mistaken for couscous. But make no mistake, quinoa nutrition far exceeds couscous.

The global popularity of quinoa started in 2006 and by 2013 crop prices had nearly tripled due to increased consumption in North America and Europe.

Quinoa Nutrition Facts

1 cup of cooked quinoa provides:

  • Calories: 229 calories
  • Fat: 3.5 grams (mostly from unsaturated, healthy fats)
  • Carbohydrates: 42 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Natural sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 8 gram
  • Potassium: 453 mg
  • Source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate

Quinoa nutrition benefits:

  • B vitamins for energy metabolism
  • Complete protein for muscle and tissue repair (this is rare for a vegetarian protein)
  • 8 grams of high-quality protein and 39 grams of slow-digesting carbs
  • Potassium to help lower blood pressure
  • High in fiber which helps curb your appetite
  • Low glycemic index keeps your blood sugar level low
  • High in antioxidants which fight diseases and aging
  • Naturally gluten-free
  • May help you lose weight!

Quinoa cooking:

  • Easy to incorporate into soups, salads, baked goods, and more.
  • Simple to prepare. Bring water to a boil, follow package directions for the ratio of water to quinoa, stir in quinoa, reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer 12-15 minutes.
  • Delicious served warm or cold. Eat it fresh off the stove for dinner or pack it in Tupperware while you're meal prepping for the week.

A Vegan Protein Staple

Entering into a vegan lifestyle can be a pathway to better health. Or, like any diet, it can be full of pseudo-health foods that are highly processed and loaded with fillers, that just happen to be considered vegan.

Vegan athletes have come to know quinoa as not only a complete protein source, but a source of vital vitamins and minerals that help promote solid performance.

  • Magnesium: Energy production, muscle contraction, nervous system function, protein formation
  • Phosphorus: Acid-base balance, hormone activation, energy production and storage
  • Folate: Protein metabolism
  • Iron: Energy production, red blood cell formation, wound healing, immune function

You don't have to be vegan to enjoy this plant-based miracle food. Include a scoop of it with any meal to pack on healthy protein and carbs.

Athlete highlight: Quinoa easily fits into an athletes workout fuel. Create quinoa energy bites, blend into smoothies, or enjoy as your primary protein and carbohydrate combo source for dinner the night before a race.

Simple Quinoa Recipes

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl, Quinoa Nutrition
Photo credit: Dave Sherotski

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup organic nut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp Maca powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium ripe pear

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Lean Green Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ½ cup pesto sauce
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • Sea salt to taste

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

quinoa tabbouleh dave Sherotski, Quinoa Nutrition
Photo credit: @davesherotski

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

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Quinoa Energy Bites

chocolate peanut butter quinoa energy bites, Quinoa Nutrition
Photo credit: @DaveSherotski

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked white quinoa, chilled
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • ¼ cup nut butter
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

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Slow Cooked Quinoa Chili

quinoa chili dave shertoski, Quinoa Nutrition
Photo credit: @DaveSherotski

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 15 ounce can black beans
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

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Chocolate Quinoa Smoothie

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp nut butter
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 ½ cups coconut water

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for 60 seconds. Enjoy cold.

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