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Quinoa – Quin-what? That’s the question that’s crossing many-a-mind as this gluten-free grain skyrockets into popularity. Non-GMO. With its mild flavour, light crunch and impressive protein content, quinoa is the perfect gluten-free substitute for pasta, rice or couscous. It’s also frequently milled into gluten-free flour that can be used in baking, or as the base for gluten-free pastas, cereals and more.

Quinoa seeds are native to Bolivia and is a relative of Swiss chard, spinach and beets—bet you didn’t know that. What’s more, it’s comes in three varieties (whole grain white, red and black) and it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Just one cup contains 8g of protein, 5g of fibre, 15% DV iron, 30% DV magnesium, 19% DV folate and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

Quinoa is also a complete protein, which means it provides all nine essential amino acids necessary for good health, hence the name “essential.” Your body can’t produce these nutrients itself, so you have to get them frequently through food. Amino acids support strong muscles, keep our immune systems in tip-top shape and do lots of other stuff to keep our bodies healthy—thing is, not all plant-based proteins are created equal. Wheat, rice and most other grains are missing one or more essential amino acids, but quinoa is a one-stop shop. Nice, right? Suddenly the word “wholesome” takes on a whole new meaning.