Quinoa — pronounced “keen-wah” — is becoming increasingly popular in the United States . It has a rich nutty flavor and a texture that’s slightly crunchier than rice when it’s fully cooked. We love this delicious and healthy food, but how much do we actually know about it?
Here are 21 quinoa facts you should know:
#21. Quinoa is a gluten-free food.
#20. Quinoa can be ground into flour and used to make gluten-free pasta.
#19. Quinoa is high in protein; in fact, it’s one of the few plant-based sources of protein that contains all the amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on their own.
#18. One cup of uncooked quinoa will supply you with half of your daily recommended value of fiber.
#17. Quinoa is a good source of iron; one cup of uncooked quinoa has more than 40 percent of your daily recommended value.
#16. Quinoa is high in vitamin B-6, which supports immunity and nervous system function.
#15. Quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral needed for strong bones and healthy nerve and muscle function.
#14. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 “The International Year of Quinoa” because of its high nutritive value, impressive biodiversity, and role in combating hunger around the world.
#13. Quinoa is often considered a superfood because it is extremely nutrient dense.
#12. Quinoa comes in several varieties; white, red, and black are most common.
#11. Red quinoa holds its shape better after cooking, making it ideal for cold salads.
#10. Black quinoa has a slightly earthier taste than other varieties.
#9. Quinoa should be rinsed before cooking to remove its natural coating (which is called saponin). Most boxed quinoa is pre-rinsed.
#8. Quinoa can be cooked like rice. Put the quinoa and water into a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and then simmer the quinoa until cooked, about 15 minutes.
#7. Quinoa can be cooked in stock (instead of water) for extra flavor.
#6. Quinoa makes a delicious and nutritious breakfast; cook it with water the night before and then reheat it with a little milk in the morning. Drizzle with honey and top with fresh fruit.
#5. Uncooked quinoa can be stored as long as six months if it’s sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated. (You can also store it at room temperature, but it won’t keep quite as long).
#4. Quinoa was first cultivated in South America, near the Andes Mountains.
#3. Most of the quinoa consumed in the United States still comes from South America, specifically Peru.
#2. Quinoa is considered an “ancient grain” because it has been cultivated for thousands of years and remains largely unchanged.
#1. But quinoa isn’t actually a grain: it’s a seed.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.