Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, comes in a variety of forms. The most common types you’ll probably see at the health store or grocery stores are red and white quinoa.
So what’s the difference between red and white quinoa?
Cooked red quinoa has more antioxidants than white quinoa, though otherwise, they’re very similar nutritional value. Both are high in protein and packed with vitamins and minerals. Red quinoa also has a chewier texture and a stronger flavor and takes a bit longer to cook than the white variety.
With its brownish hue, many chefs also prefer red quinoa for its visual impact, which looks stunning with green vegetables and makes a great cold salad ingredient.
However, both varieties of quinoa seeds have high nutritional value, including essential amino acids, soluble fiber, and protein, coming with a wide range of health benefits and nutritional benefits and being ideal for people on a low carb diet.
Let’s look at red and white quinoa, compare the two, their nutritional value, and how to make the most of these fantastic, gluten-free grains!
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a natural gluten-free grain originating in South America. It is commonly cultivated around the Andes in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina and is a staple food in many of these countries.
Different Types of Quinoa
Quinoa can come in a wide range of varieties with different colors, including:
- Red quinoa
- Black quinoa
- White quinoa, also known as ivory quinoa or blond quinoa
- Golden quinoa or yellow quinoa
- Tan quinoa
Difference Between Red and White Quinoa: The Taste
One key difference between red and white quinoa is its taste. Red quinoa has a stronger flavor and richer taste, with a more earthy flavor. However, both can taste bitter if the grains are not rinsed properly before cooking.
On the other hand, white quinoa has a more delicate taste and is slightly sweeter. Though all varieties of quinoa can have a nutty flavor, some say red quinoa has a nuttier flavor than others. However, overall, white quinoa has the most delicate taste.
Both varieties are ideal for cold salads and warm side dishes to accompany all kinds of foods.
Nutritional Value of Red and White Quinoa
Both red and white quinoa have a similar amount of calories, with around 370 calories per 100 grams. However, compared to other cereal grains, they are very high in protein, each having around 13 grams of protein to 100 grams of quinoa, about 70 grams of carbohydrates, and seven or eight grams of fiber. Finally, both are good sources of iron and calcium.
The only notable difference between the two types of quinoa is regarding anti-oxidants: red quinoa has a higher concentration. This means that red quinoa can help to prevent cell damage and lower your risk of disease.
Both types of quinoa are also high in soluble fiber, with 2.8 grams of fiber in 100 grams. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, so the body easily absorbs it. Soluble fiber has been linked to various health benefits, including promoting better digestive health and regulating blood glucose levels (lowering your risk of diabetes).
Eating foods with soluble fiber also helps you to feel fuller for longer, meaning you’re less likely to overeat, and so helps you to maintain a healthy weight.
The high protein content of quinoa also comes with several benefits. Cooked quinoa boasts around 4.4 grams of protein per 100 grams, much higher than most other grains. Like soluble fiber, protein is helpful for weight management because it helps you to feel fuller for longer.
Protein can also boost your metabolism, further assisting with weight loss and being useful for building and repairing muscle.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa is much more nutritious than white rice and many other grains. As a complete protein, quinoa can help you avoid blood sugar crashes.
All kinds of quinoa can be beneficial for weight loss. They are relatively low in calories, and the complex mix of whole grain carbohydrates, protein, and fiber will help you to regulate your blood sugar and avoid that snacking that is the enemy of those looking to drop some pounds.
All types of quinoa have a low glycemic index and are considered low-GI foods. For example, red quinoa has a glycemic index of 54, while white quinoa’s glycemic index is 50. Low-GI foods are those with a glycemic index of 55 or less.
In turn, by helping you to manage your weight, eating quinoa can help you lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Quinoa is also an excellent choice for people with Celiac disease, as this grain is naturally gluten-free. Furthermore, both types of quinoa can be ground down into flour and used as a substitute for wheat flour to make cakes, bread, pancakes, and other dishes for gluten-intolerant people.
Difference Between Red and White Quinoa: Texture
Although the two are very similar, there are slight differences between the texture of red quinoa and white quinoa. Although both have a fluffy texture when cooked, white quinoa has the lightest texture and is a bit fluffier.
Characteristics of red quinoa
On the other hand, red quinoa has a chewier texture. Some people also say that it has a heavier texture. Because it’s slightly chewier and has a heavier texture than white quinoa, red quinoa, like black quinoa, is best suited to more robust dishes.
As white quinoa has a light texture – probably the lightest texture of any quinoa variety – it’s ideal for pairing with softer textures or crunchy foods like lettuce or cucumber for contrast.
How to Cook Quinoa
One of the main reasons that people are hesitant to introduce quinoa to their diet is that they don’t know how to cook this new grain. However, cooking quinoa of all varieties is relatively quick and easy and doesn’t require special ingredients or equipment.
According to the Canadian brand Quinta Quinoa, a quarter cup of quinoa can be cooked in half a cup of water. Of course, you can also use broth if you prefer, as this gives the quinoa a bit of extra flavor, but you can still enjoy tasty cooked quinoa made with tap water.
You can cook red and white quinoa the same way as virtually any other type of quinoa. In the next section, we’ll explain exactly how to cook red and white quinoa.
Cooking Red and White Quinoa
The cooking time, method, and process are virtually identical for red and white quinoa, though red quinoa can sometimes take a bit longer to cook.
Here’s how to cook both of these kinds of quinoa step by step:
Put one cup of uncooked quinoa in a pot and add two cups of water or broth. You can adjust the quantities following this 2:1 ratio. For example, use a quarter cup of quinoa with half a cup of water.
Place the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil.
Once the liquid is at a rolling boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (15 minutes for red quinoa), keeping the pot covered as it simmers.
Take the pot off the fire. Still keeping the pot covered, leave the quinoa to stand for five minutes.
Lightly fork the quinoa with a fork until fluffy.
Add a pinch of salt or spices you like and enjoy!
Tips for Cooking the Perfect Quinoa
Quinoa should never be eaten raw – always cook it first! It’s also important to cook it properly. Otherwise, it will be crunchy and may taste bitter.
Quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed. If you’re unsure whether it’s properly cooked, look at the grains: if you can see small, curled ends, it’s ready to serve. Also, remember that red quinoa takes around three to five minutes to cook than white quinoa.
How to Use Quinoa in Dishes
Red quinoa, white quinoa, and all other varieties of quinoa are an exciting addition to any gluten free diet. You can use cooked quinoa as a substitute for brown rice as a side dish or in any way you would use rice, such as in stir-fries, fried rice, or soups.
Just quinoa on its own makes a fantastic, delicious accompanying dish for virtually any meal. White quinoa is ideal for pairing with seafood and other light flavors with the most delicate taste.
Quinoa is also an excellent addition to cold salads, especially red quinoa’s unique taste and texture. Mix cooked quinoa through your favorite salad, or make a cold salad of quinoa, cucumber, red peppers, and shallots. This fresh, colorful salad has a fantastic visual impact and a nice mix of soft and crunchy textures.
If you have kids who are fussy eaters, you can add small amounts of cooked quinoa can also be added to cookies, meatballs, or macaroni and cheese for some extra nutrition.
Furthermore, you don’t need to keep red and white quinoa apart: pair them with golden and black quinoa for a fabulous tri color quinoa dish such as cold salads or other sides.
Can I Use Quinoa to Replace Other Grains?
The most common grains in our modern diet include wheat and rice. However, quinoa can easily replace these grains in many dishes.
For example, you can swap out rice for quinoa to make a delicious stir fry dish, or substitute quinoa for rice, pasta, or virtually any grain to accompany meat, vegetables, or fish.
When cooked correctly, quinoa is light and fluffy with a subtle taste, so it works well as a side to a wide range of foods. The difference between red varieties and other quinoa is that it has a nuttier, earthier taste and a more robust texture.
With a delicate taste, cooked quinoa can easily replace rice in many dishes. You can also easily swap out cous cous for quinoa or use it instead of burghum wheat in tabouli salad.
Both red and white quinoa are high-protein, gluten-free, and low-GI grains that make an excellent alternative to rice, wheat, and other grains. In addition, because of its low glycemic index, quinoa helps to regulate your blood sugar, aiding with weight loss.
It’s also packed with protein, fiber, and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to any meal.
Red and white quinoa can be used for various side dishes or replace other grains. With a slightly more prominent flavor, red quinoa is ideal for salads, while white quinoa is perfect as a substitute for rice in virtually any dish.
But try these healthy grains for yourself and experiment with making your delicious meals from quinoa!