For those of you who are new to Quinoa, it is gluten-free (of course, or I would not eat it), and it is considered an ancient grain that dates back to the Inca civilizations in South America. It originates from Bolivia these days. It is one of the best sources of vegetable protein around, and it has a fair amount of dietary fiber. The grain has a delicious, somewhat nutty, light flavor that goes well with many other dishes. Some other selling points that are noted on the packages of Quinoa include:
- Quinoa contains more high-quality protein than any other grain
- Quinoa provides all the essential amino acids in a balanced pattern
- Quinoa contains no gluten (of top concern to Celiacs of course)
- Quinoa is light, tasty, and easy to digest
- Quinoa is quick and easy to prepare (a personal favorite-feature)
Whereas traditional quinoa is very mild in flavor, this Inca Red variety has a slightly more pronounced flavor. It is in no way overpowering though, and still makes for some very good gluten-free quinoa dishes. Its texture is similar to the traditional type, though I think it is maybe just ever so slightly more dense. This fact is reflected in the nutritional breakdown I believe, since it has a bit more fiber and protein than the traditional type.
Specifically, for a 1/4 cup of the uncooked dry Quinoa (considered to be one serving), here is how the two varieties compare (T = Traditional, R = Inca Red):
- Calories: nearly identical at around 165 calories
- Protein: T has 5 grams, R has 6 grams
- Dietary Fiber: T has 3 grams, R has 4 grams
- Carbohydrates: T has 30 grams, R has 29 grams
- Iron: T has 10% of RDA, R has 13% RDA
- Phosphorous: T has 15% RDA, R has 25% RDA
- Calcium: zero for T, 2% for R
- Riboflavin: 8% for T, 10% for R
- Sugars: T has 1 gram, R has 5 grams (this surprised me, since I noticed no sweetness in the Red per se).
In a previous blog about Quinoa, I discussed a gluten-free garlic, pepper, and herb Quinoa recipe that we favor in our household. To make the recipe pictured above, we actually used about half each of the traditional variety of quinoa and the Inca Red quinoa. The rest of the recipe stayed the same.
The results were fantastic! This dish tasted absolutely wonderful, and was fulfilling on many levels. Full of flavor, plenty of texture, and simply satisfying. It went wonderfully with some oven-roasted chicken my wife baked up the same evening. The chicken was an adaptation of our gluten-free pulled-chicken recipe - same recipe, just minus the "pulled" part, and using some skinless chicken thighs this time.
If you encounter this Ancient Harvest Inca Red Quinoa at a grocery store, I'd certainly recommend giving it a try. Yet another item you can add to your gluten-free baking repertoire. It's bound to satisfy everyone, gluten-free, celiac, and non-GF persons all the same.