bp's science: quinoa (v.1)

So, I've joined the quinoa (keen-wah) bandwagon. First, I saw the food mentioned on Top Chef. Then my sister started eating it. Then I found out another sister had already been eating it. And then I saw it in Costco and thought, "Why not?"

Quinoa is the small circular seed of a leafy green plant related to spinach. It's cooked like rice and/or cous cous and can serve as a substitute for those types foods. It is a great substitution because, for a "grain", it has tons of protein in it (which has always been a focus, seeing as one of the questions my mom would ask me growing up and over the phone when I was in college was, "Are you getting enough protein?"). Apparently, it has nine of the essential (meaning we have to get them from what we eat) amino acids. Just for kicks, let me mention all ten* of those amino acids (which I remember memorizing in college, but quickly forgot after I passed my physiology class):


Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins (which make up our cells, create enzymes, repair tissues, the list goes on and on!). While our body can make some proteins, it must get others from our diet. That's why quinoa is such a great source of a complete protein. And in one serving, there is ~8 grams (or ~16% of your daily value). Plus, it has lots of vitamins and minerals, including iron.

The question is, is quinoa good? I think it all comes with the recipe you decide to make with it. I like quinoa and enjoy it in about everything I make with it. Jess on the other hand, needs a good flavorful dish in order to really enjoy it. To tell you the truth, it has taken some trial and error to find a good quinoa combination, but I think I'm almost there with getting the hang of it. I'll let you know when I've got a killer recipe.

photo found here.

*it should be noted that sources on the internet mention different numbers of essential amino acids. Some said there are 8, others 9, and some 10. I sifted through several sites (boy do I wish I still had my physiology book) and found that the number differs because of the amino acids arginine and histidine. It depends on the site, but different sources say that arginine and histidine are only essential for kids. When 9 is mentioned, the essential list includes histidine. When 10 is mentioned, the list includes both. The nutrition information I looked at included histidine but not arginine in it's counts. Does that mean the quinoa does not have arginine in it? There, I cannot be certain, and with that, we learn that this bp's science post is not totally complete. Apologies to the reader. I don't work in a lab.


jo said...

Quinoa! Seriously, if I was still teaching, I'd cook up a batch o' this when we learned about amino acids. Delicious and educational!

Holley @ Lunges and Lashes said...

you won't be disappointed. i LOVE it!

kel said...

great post. the lesson for preschool on Thursday is "Grains" and i'm teaching it. do you think i can get the kids to memorize the amino acids? they better!

what is your basic quinoa recipe?

Natalie said...

I have a box but I haven't been brave enough to cook it yet. Maybe I'll wait for your killer recipe. :)

Angie said...

I too am a fan. I put it in chicken soup instead of noodles or potatoes and James who is not a potato fan (aka crazy) likes it much better. Good to know it is so nutritious. I will try to use it more. Thanks, BP!