Quinoa is a healthy food grain that was introduced in North America in the early 1980s. However, it is a staple diet of people living in the Andes regions from the days of the Incas.
Quinoa is actually the seed of the quinoa plant and related to spinach, Swiss chard and other leafy greens. The quinoa grains come in many different colors although the most common ones are white, red and black.
Quinoa is being widely used because it is one of the few plant varieties that are an excellent source of protein, containing all required amino acids.
Quinoa also contains many other vitamins and minerals like magnesium and manganese and vitamin E.
Hence, it has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and is effective in controlling blood pressure, helps relax blood vessels and improve oxygen flow throughout the body and helps those with severe migraines.
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Tips on purchasing quinoa
Quinoa is available in most mainstream grocery stores in the US and on online stores like Amazon.com. In the UK, quinoa can be purchased in supermarkets like Sainsburys, Tesco or Morrisons.
Some stores carry some brands and not others. Catalogue shopping is one good way to buy various quinoa brands. Consider the postage costs for these could sometimes hike the price.
Before you buy quinoa, visit a few supermarkets and buy a boxed variety of a popular brand. This will give cooking instructions for those who are unaware how to use the product. Once you get comfortable cooking with quinoa, you can check bulk food grain bins found in most health foods stores.
If bulk quinoa is available, this is cheaper than buying packaged ones. Once you try a few brands, you will settle on a few that you like. Then if you wish, you can order online. Some warehouses carry discounted quinoa in large bags that is inexpensive.
If there is a Hispanic grocery store near you, you can try them for quinoa grains too. Boxed quinoa is expensive. So, look for coupons in your local Sunday papers or for discounts online.
Find out various good quinoa brands and search online if they provide online services. Sometimes, you can get a decent discount when shopping online.
Another advantage of buying quinoa online for those who cannot find it at a local grocery store is that you can read customer reviews and choose wisely.
What to avoid when buying or using quinoa
When buying quinoa, avoid unwashed varieties. Pre-washed quinoa varieties are available and these are easier and safer to cook. Raw quinoa grains are coated with saponins that are bitter and mildly toxic.
Even if the label claims that it is pre-washed, it is important to wash the grains yourself to rid it of any saponins. If you find a reliable brand that after using you find is definitely pre-washed, then stick to
Be careful when buying quinoa in bulk for sometimes the suppliers do not sort it properly and it can contain tiny rocks mixed with the grains. This can hurt you when eating and even break your teeth.
If you plan to use quinoa regularly, buy a large colander with tiny holes and wash it thoroughly under running water for a few minutes. This can prove tedious for some, but the result is that you can get tasty quinoa minus bitter saponins. In all this, we see that once you find a good and reliable brand, you should stick with them.
Quinoa Brands Available Online
The following are some of the types of quinoa available on Amazon.com.
White Quinoa Brands: White quinoa is the most commonly used of all types and hence you can find many brands available not only online but also at local supermarkets.
‘Alter Eco Fair Trade Pearl Quinoa’ comes in 16oz pouches. This is a Bolivian variety of quinoa and can be used in any recipe. It cooks easily, is tender, flavorful and crunchy and can be used just like white rice.
‘Love to Learn’ has certified organic white quinoa that comes in 10lb bags. What is more it is also certified non-GMO which means it is free of harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Black Quinoa Brands: ‘Roland Black Quinoa, Prewashed’ is available in 5lbs bags. Purchasing a pack of 2 comes with a discount and free shipping. Another brand of black quinoa is ‘Organic Black Bolivian Quinoa – Heirloom quality’. This comes from ‘Natural Food Company’ and in 1lb packages.
Red Quinoa Brands: ‘Eden Organic Red Quinoa’ is available in 16oz pouches. The grains are grown organically on small sustainable family farms and are of the rare Pasankalla family of quinoa plants.
This product comes in re-sealable pouches which retain the freshness of stored grains. It has a mild flavor and fluffy texture and can be included in any recipe.