balance on keenwaaaaaaaah

Whether you pronounce it properly (keen-wah) or the less posh way (quin-oh-ah), it’s still worth adding this food to your trolley next time you’re in the supermarket and having it in your cupboard as a healthy ingredient to add to main meals and lunches.

What is it?

Whilst many think that it’s a grain, it’s not actually a member of the cereal family, sharing more in common with beetroot and spinach.

It’s actually a Chenopod! Sounds like a Doctor Who villain but it’s just a subspecies of flowering plant. It originated in South America and has been consumed in places like Peru for thousands of years. After the bitter coating is removed, the quinoa seeds can be used just as rice would be as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes.

Up until a few years ago it wasn’t a particularly common or popular choice on a British dinner plate and you’d be scouring the shelves of only the healthiest of health food shops to find it. These days you’ll find it in most supermarkets, certainly Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose do a good range. It’s not the cheapest but it does pack a fair load of health benefits to make it worth the money. Even good old Ainsley Harriott has it in some of his ready to cook packet foods!

A healthy grain???

Like we said, it’s not really a grain like some wheat products are, so if you’re worried about wheat or gluten content as many are these days, you needn’t be. We’ll leave that debate for another blog; instead let’s play Health Top Trumps with our lovely little Chenopod and find out what’s in it:

  • It packs in all of the essential amino acids. These are the building blocks of protein in the body, and the essential ones are those that must be consumed in the diet as the body cannot produce them. One such essential amino acid is lysine, which quinoa carries in abundance. An important factor in a healthy immune system and for muscle repair, lysine may also contribute to blood pressure regulation, decreased risk of stroke and possibly even help protect against some cancers.
  • It’s abundant with a range of minerals needed to keep the body functioning at it’s best, including calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.
  • It’s high in fibre, which as a well-known brand of cereals once said, ‘keeps hunger locked up 'til lunch!’ We’re pretty confident this is a healthier choice, although we don’t expect you to have it for breakfast with some milk and a cup of tea!!
  • Keeps you fighting fit with phytonutrients - as you know we’re big on plant foods here at balance and with high levels of quercetin and kaempferol, quinoa has a range of substances within that help fight inflammation in the body.
  • Good fats - surprisingly there’s a reasonable amount of our good friend Omega 3 in here too in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, as well as being high in another health fat, oleic acid. OK so it’s not quite oily fish but it can contribute towards a healthier diet.

Check out these recipes online for some ideas on how to add a little quinoa into your diet:

Love and hugs,


think, eat, live, move