What do we know about Quinoa? How does it compare to other cereals/grains? Is it expensive?
It is a seed grown in South America.
It is a pseudo-cereal — its used as a grain but not really a grain.
It is a carbohydrate.
Rich in fiber and high quality protein (meaning it contains essential amino acids which are great for the body)
Appears to have physiological benefits — antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering
It’s a great gluten-free option for celiac/gluten-intolerant individuals.
So lets understand and discuss the 4 popular cereal grains/seeds that are talked about and compared in the recent times.
Quinoa vs. Brown rice vs. Bulgur vs. White rice
(Nutritional facts are indicated per 1 cup cooked)
Summary of the Table
When we talk of calories, bulgur has the least (151 calories) compared to quinoa, brown rice and white rice (200–220 calories).
Both varieties of rice, white and brown have higher carbohydrate content (45 g) compared to quinoa(39 g) and bulgur (34 g) which has the least.
Quinoa has the highest protein content of the group (8.1 g). Quinoa is rich in essential amino acids which enhances its protein quality.
Bulgur leads the run on the fiber content with (8.2 g) followed by quinoa with (5.2 g).
Fat content is the highest in quinoa (mostly polyunsaturated) (3.5 g) compared to the others (0.5–1.5 g).
In addition to the nutritional benefits, one of the main factors that determine our food choices is the cost.
Quinoa is the most expensive of the group with a 4lb bag costing $26.95, followed by bulgur $18.45.
The least nutritious of this group, white rice, is also the cheapest costing $4.50 for the same amount. A healthier option of brown rice on the other hand is around $6.90/4 lb.
What works best for you?
As a dietitian and researcher, keeping the health and cost in mind, I would recommend brown rice — which is a balance of nutrients and inexpensive. However, if cost is not a barrier, chose Quinoa!
White rice may not be as healthy, but it is cheap and may be an option for a lot of people. It can contribute to a wholesome meal when accompanied by lentils/meats and vegetables!
A quick recipe that is both nutritious and delicious — any of the 4 cereals mentioned above can be used interchangeably in the following recipe!
Cook either grain (quinoa/brown rice/ bulgur/white rice) separately by boiling it in twice the amount of water (follow instructions on the bag if needed).
Dice a variety of vegetables — peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, kale, beans, spinach, cauliflower — any kind you like! Saute them together on a non-stick. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice for taste.
Alternatively you can either boil or slightly steam the vegetables and add the seasoning to them.
Marinate a piece of fish or chicken for a couple hours in lemon, ginger-garlic and chili flakes. Grill the meat at about 350–400 F for approximately 15–17 minutes.
And now for the fun part !!! Setting up the plate!
Mix the vegetables into the quinoa/ brown rice/ bulgur/ white rice. Serve the grilled meat/fish on the side. Drizzle a little hot sauce or cilantro dressing to add to the color and flavor…
Because we understand that healthy food also needs to be interesting and delectable!