I really only recently discovered quinoa. When I began eating paleo, a little less than a year ago, I thought quinoa was a no go. I, like most people, were under the assumption that it was a grain. Little did I know that quinoa is technically a seed…
There is still a lot of discussion out there among the paleo crew as to whether it can be consumed, is it good, is it safe, yadda, yadda, yadda. And depending on whom you ask and how “strict” the paleo version of the diet is, you will receive different answers. If you ask Robb Wolf, he would say to avoid quinoa. All I can do is share with you what I’ve learned about this food, in order to help you make the best decision for you.
Although quinoa is a seed, it still spikes your blood sugar with it’s glycemic index, making it pretty carb intensive, although not nearly as much as wheat. Quinoa is gluten-free (the protein found in wheat that causes gastrointestinal symptoms in many people), but it does contain saponins, which can have the same reaction as gluten in some. Saponins are on the outer barrier of quinoa, which is one of the reasons everyone encourages you rinse it thoroughly. Through thorough rinsing you should be able to rid most of the saponins, but not necessarily all of them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it does have many benefits. One of which is its nutrient density. Like eggs, quinoa is a complete protein carrying a significant amount of all 9 amino acids (the building blocks of protein). It also contains manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.
I recommend you give quinoa a try and pay attention to how you react to it. If you experience gut problems, then it is not for you. Personally I won’t eat it all the time because of the glycemic index, but it will continue to be a part of my diet. If you are new to the paleo diet, I suggest you avoid it for a while. Give yourself a month to truly eat strict paleo, so that your body can rid toxins and your gut can cleanse itself, then introduce it and see how you react to it. Nutrition is our pharmacy and through our diet we can actually prevent chronic disease, so it is critical to pay attention to our food and how we react to it. For me, healthy eating isn’t about losing weight but about being whole, feeling good and living a long healthy life. Everyone responds differently to different foods and remember that no one has the right to tell you exactly what to eat. The great thing about life is we get to make our own decisions. Eat healthy, and enjoy!
- 1 cup quinoa (I prefer red quinoa)
- 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (you can use any broth you prefer)
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 large tomato, diced (adjust according to your preference)
- 1 large avocado, diced (again, adjust according to your preference)
THE HOW TO:
If you do not have pre-rinsed quinoa, be sure to soak for 15 minutes then rinse thoroughly. Rinse at least 5 times, draining the water each time. This will help to remove some of the saponins.
- Bring broth to a boil.
- Stir in Quinoa and reduce to low heat.
- Cover and let cook 30 – 35 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat, keep covered and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Fluff with fork and transfer to large bowl.
- Stir in tomatoes and avocado then squeeze lemon juice and stir. Serve.
I stumbled across this cooking quinoa website. She has quite a bit of information and recipes. Not all of the recipe’s follow paleo, but with a few tweaks you can make many of them paleo.