When you first see quinoa or hear about it, you may think that it is actually a “grain”. Some people may even refer to it as such, but rest assured it is not a grain. It is actually a plant seed and a relative of green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
Quinoa is one of only two plant based foods that provide all nine essential amino acids. Those are the ones your body can’t manufacture on its own. It is also a complete protein, which is great for all of us, but especially for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. It also is low on the glycemic index scale, meaning it digests slowly and won’t spike your blood sugar like grains will.
Gluten is a protein that is found in grain products such as wheat, rye, barley and oats. It causes great discomfort and illness when eaten to those who have celiac disease. Quinoa is a great food for those who can’t tolerate gluten, because in the standard, raw form, it is gluten-free. There may, however, be some risks to gluten exposure with certain quinoa products such as flour and flakes. These products go through processing plants that may use machines for wheat products and quinoa product thus causing cross contamination.
If you do not have a severe allergy to gluten, you may find these products do not cause any reaction. If your allergy is more serious or if you have celiac disease, you will want to make sure that you are getting these products from factories that do not use the same machines to produce both quinoa products and grain products.
Quinoa is a great addition to the gluten free diet and the grain free diet!