My little research on quinoa: The plant originates in Peru and grows in the 8000 to 12000 feet high valleys of the Andes. It was the main dish for the Incas. Its nutrients are much higher then in any grain. With 13-22% is it higher in protein then any vegetable. Amino Acids are the builder of the body and Quinoa has a perfectly balanced amount of them. We could eat quinoa exclusively over a period of time, without developing any lack of nutrition.

Quinoa is also very rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements. 4.3% of those are Alpha – Linol acid, an essential fatty acid which is, otherwise, only found in fish. There is a reason why it is called the “Gold of the Incas”.

Amino acids in Gram per 100 Gram of Quinoa

Isoleucine 0,88 Leucine 0,98 Lysine 0,91 Valine 0,55 Arginine 1,02 Methionine 0,33 Phenylalanine 0,48 Threonine 0,63 Tryptophane 0,15 Histidine 0,37 Tyrosine 0,39 Cystine 0,33 (Source : M. Kipping, persönliche Mitteilungen, 1994.)

Minerals- und Trace elementes in Milligramm per 100 Gramm of Quinoa

Calcium 200 Phosphor 470 Iron 51 Potassium 1040 Sodium 122 Magnesium 310 Copper 0,87 Manganese 4,3 Chloride 533 Silicic acid 115 Zinc 8,7 Sulfur 220 Cobalt 0,005 (Source: M. Kipping, persönliche Mitteilungen, 1995.)

Vitamins in Gramm per 100 Gramm of Quinoa

Vitamin B1 0,65 Vitamin B2 0,4 Vitamin C 4,4 Vitamin E 5,37 Carotene 0,48 (Source: M. Kipping, persönliche Mitteilungen, 1994.)


See Recipes for Quinoa on the recipes pages

I found this info. on quinoa: I remember somewhere hearing about the bitter taste and it’s removal. The following is a small bit of info. on that. I suppose that if the quinoa tastes bitter, it probably has not been processed properly…  “This amazing ancient food is now in the process of being rediscovered by modern peoples. In South America, a renewed respect for indigenous crops and traditional foods has reversed a 400-year decline in quinoa production that began with the Spanish conquest. And within the past three years quinoa has begun to be grown for the first time outside South America…

Quinoa is a small seed that in size, shape, and color looks like a cross between sesame seed and millet. It is disk shaped with a flattened or depressed equatorial band around it’s periphery. It is usually a pale yellow color but some species may vary from almost white through pink, orange, or red to purple and black. Quinoa is not a true cereal grain but is technically a fruit of the Chenopodium family. Chenopodium plants have characteristic leaves shaped like a goose foot. The genus also includes our common weed, lamb’s quarters.

Quinoa is an annual herb that grows from three to six feet high, and like millet its seeds are in large clusters at the end of the stalk. The seeds are covered with saponin, a resin-like substance that is extremely bitter and forms a soapy solution in water. To be edible, the saponin must be removed. Traditionally, saponin has been removed by laboriously hand scrubbing the quinoa in alkaline water. The edible seed of the quinoa plant has been called both a pseudo-cereal and a pseudo-oilseed because of it’s unique nutritional profile. It is high in protein compared to other grains, although it is also high in oil and fat.

Some wheats come close to matching quinoa’s protein content, but cereals such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Also, quinoa has a good balance of the amino acids that make up the protein. Quinoa, like soybeans, is exceptionally high in lysine, an amino acid not overly abundant in the vegetable kingdom. Quinoa is also a good complement for legumes, which are often low in Methionine and Cystine. In addition, quinoa is a relatively good source of phosphorous, calcium, iron, vitamin E, and several of the B vitamins. In addition to all this, quinoa tastes good. ” Here is a company who states that their quinoa has been processed to remove the saponin: “….processed to remove the bitter saponin coating that naturally encases the cylindrical seed. This process involves both mechanical abrasion and a thorough washing with a rapid dry and heat stabilization process. This makes the quinoa ready for use by the consumer or, further processing such as grinding….” Oh, and here seems to be a use for the saponins! “CICA (Applied Sciences Research Center) has developed a process for the separation of Quinoa seeds (Chenopodium Quinoa WILLD) saponins, rendering a technical grade product. This process has been developed for PROQUIPO, an organization formed by the Bolivian Goverment and the European Community (E.C.), funded by the E.C.

The Quinoa seeds saponins are a group of diverse glycosides of high molecular weight, formed by one or more carbohydrate chains and an aglycone named sapogenin. These saponins are mainly of the triterpenoidal type, being the oleanolic acid and the hederagenin the main constituents, in spite of what up to 16 different saponins were identified related to Quinoa seeds.

There is no evidence of any steroidal type saponins in Quinoa seeds. These saponins have strong detergent properties, form very stable foam in water solutions, show also hemolytic activity and bitter taste and are in general toxic to cold blooded animals getting oxygen directly from water.

At present there is some use of saponins in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food, detergents and mining industries. Saponins at a concentration of about 5-6% are frequently employed in soap, shampoo and bath salt formulation. Other applications include their use in dentifrices and as emulsifiers.” Kim McCary