Is Quinoa Gluten-Free?

A bowl full of healthy and nutritious quinoa salad

With gluten-free diets becoming more popular, quinoa has gained popularity. But is quinoa gluten-free? This article answers whether quinoa is gluten-free and safe to eat on a gluten-free diet.

Is quinoa gluten-free?

This is the first question people on a gluten-free diet ask. The answer is yes, quinoa is gluten-free. If you’re looking for a gluten-free grain packed with nutrients, you should consider quinoa.

It is quickly becoming one of the most popular foods for people with gluten sensitivity. It is incredibly versatile and provides you with plant-based protein as well as fiber.

This makes it a safe and healthy choice for people on gluten-free diets [1]CELIAC DISEASE: Gluten Alternatives: Effects of Eating Quinoa in Celiac Patients.

Can people with celiac disease eat quinoa?

Celiac disease is a condition in which the body cannot tolerate gluten. For celiac patients, eating foods that contain gluten can damage the lining of the small intestine, which can lead to a host of other problems.

Quinoa is a grain native to South America and was first cultivated in the Andes mountains. It is a plant that is naturally gluten-free and considered safe for celiac people. However, it may contain certain proteins that may mimic gluten and be problematic for people with severe celiac disease conditions.

Nutritional value of quinoa

Quinoa is graded as the highest nutritious food among other heart-healthy foods. While most plant foods are lacking in amino acids required by your body, quinoa exceptionally contains all nine. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) [2]U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: Quinoa: A Plant with a Lot of Potential, 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains: 

  • 222 calories
  • 39 grams (g) of carbs
  • 8g of protein
  • 6g of fat
  • 5g of fiber
  • 1g of sugar

Benefits of eating quinoa 

There are multiple benefits of eating quinoa which is why it is preferred today among  a wide range of people. Here are some benefits of quinoa you should know: 

1. Great gluten-free alternative food

Most grains are high In gluten, and quinoa is the best replacement for them. The anti-inflammatory properties make it a superfood that reduces the risk of diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.

2. Good for the heart

The high fiber content helps with cholesterol and blood sugar levels, making it good, heart-healthy food.

3. Excellent source of protein & nutrients 

Quinoa protects all organs from damage. Quinoa is also known as the full protein source among plant-based meals.

Thus, quinoa comes in handy for many vegans and vegetarians around the world. It is fully packed with proteins and other nutrients [3]Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: NUTRITIONAL VALUE like magnesium, iron, thiamine, and more.

4. Improves gut health

Quinoa is also great for improving gut health and resolving any digestive issues because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Adds iron to your diet

Being a good source of iron, quinoa comes in handy for people with iron deficiency. It is used to maintain an overall hemoglobin rate.

Possible side-effects of eating quinoa

Like any other food, quinoa may also have side effects for a few people. Although it is safe for most people, you need to know the potential downsides of this superfood. 

  • Some people may experience bloating and gas.
  • Too much consumption of quinoa may cause kidney stones.
  • If you have a history of Crohn’s disease, eating quinoa may lead to nausea and diarrhea.

Tips to buy quinoa from the market

Here are some quick tips you need to follow to buy gluten-free quinoa from the grocery stores.  

  1. Read labels carefully: The first thing you need to do is check the label. Is it certified gluten-free? Is the product organic? Is it whole grain quinoa or refined? Once you have all these answers, you can go ahead and buy the quinoa.
  2. Check for the manufacturing date: Always check for the manufacturing date and buy quinoa that is not more than six months old from the date of manufacture.
  3. Check for any damage: Inspect the quinoa before buying, if you see any kind of insect damage or discoloration, do not buy it.
  4. Buy pre-rinsed Quinoa: If you are looking for a less hassle-free way of having your way with quinoa, then buy pre-rinsed quinoa, which will have most of the bitterness already removed from the grain. 

Summary: Although quinoa is gluten-free, some might be processed in the same factory with wheat or other gluten-containing grains. To avoid any traces of gluten, pay attention to labels and real ingredients carefully before buying quinoa. 

Gluten-free quinoa recipes

Now that you know quinoa is gluten-free, check out some tasty and delicious quinoa recipes you can quickly make at home.  

1. Green Bean & Almond Quinoa Salad

This simple and healthy green bean salad is perfect for any occasion. The quinoa adds much-needed protein that will keep you satisfied until dinner time rolls around. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 can of green beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds toasted
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & Black pepper

Method to prepare

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa, water, and sea salt to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low,  cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat, and fluff with a fork.
  3. Let cool for about five minutes. In a large bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, green beans, red onion, almonds, lemon juice, olive oil, and black pepper.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

2. Gluten-Free Quinoa with Black Beans 

If you are looking for some quick and easy dishes you can make with quinoa, then you should try this. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Method to prepare

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and sauté for about five minutes, or until softened. 
  3. Stir in quinoa, and pour in water.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender.
  5. Stir in black beans, red pepper, salsa, nutritional yeast flakes, chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper.
  6. Cook for about five more minutes, or until heated through.
  7. Stir in cilantro leaves just before serving.

3. Rainbow Quinoa Salad Recipe

This colorful salad is perfect for a summer potluck or picnic. It’s also a great way to use up any vegetables you have in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1 roasted yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 roasted orange pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cooked corn
  • 1 cherry tomato, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced

Method to prepare

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the salad ingredients.
  2. To make the dressing, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, agave nectar, chili powder, and sea salt.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad, and mix until everything is evenly coated.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Conclusion 

So the next time you look for other gluten-free grains to add to your diet, you can consider quinoa. As you can see, quinoa is not only gluten-free but also a healthy and delicious grain that can be easily incorporated into many recipes. With a bit of creativity, you can even use quinoa in sweet dishes like cookies and cakes. However, consult a certified gluten-free nutritionist before you include it in your gluten-free diet.

References

References
1 CELIAC DISEASE: Gluten Alternatives: Effects of Eating Quinoa in Celiac Patients
2 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: Quinoa: A Plant with a Lot of Potential
3 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: NUTRITIONAL VALUE

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