Battle of the Grains: Quinoa vs. Rice

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I know you’ve heard it before – “stop eating rice, it’s bad for you,” but do they ever tell you what to replace it with? Rice was a staple in my Dominican kitchen. It’s was hard to say “just stop eating rice,” without looking at what the replacement would be: enter Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa). Quinoa easily replaced in my kitchen, my clients’ kitchens and my heart for its versatility, its ability to hold onto flavor, and of course, its health profile when compared to rice. Let’s explore those benefits:

Fiber: Let’s start with my friend fiber, the nutrient that keeps our bowels going. To keep healthy bowel movements, you want about 26 grams of fiber per day. A cup of white rice has about 4% of that while a cup of quinoa can deliver 21% of your daily fiber intake. Winner? I should also mention that though you can trade white rice for brown rice, quinoa still wins because brown rice only delivers 14% of your daily fiber intake.

Protein: At the end of the day, we want protein, that’s what keeps us full when we have any of our traditional rice dishes. When you combine rice with beans it provides you with a meal that has all the amino acids you require. (Yes! There’s health benefits to rice and beans that’s why its such a universal dish!) A cup of rice gives you 3 grams of protein, but a cup of quinoa has about 50% more grams with about 9 grams per cup!

Folate: You may know it as folic acid, and this one is especially important for women of child bearing age. One cup of quinoa delivers 21% of your daily recommended folate intake while white rice gives you a teeny 2%.

To even the score a bit, I should mention that brown rice does have more niacin (helps lower cholesterol) and vitamin B3 (helps balance stress) – but these alone are not enough to beat quinoa where it matters, fiber & protein.

When it comes to cooking, the prep and time for both is pretty similar with a 2:1 water to grain vegetable. Just remember, quinoa has a coating that makes the grain taste a bit bitter – always give your quinoa a good wash before cooking it to avoid disappointment.

Have you tried quinoa? What are some of your favorite recipes? Comment below!

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