Enjoy Quinoa – a gluten-free superfood

Quinoa Salad UTMB.jpg

                    The UTMB Newsroom

                    The University of Texas Medical Branch

                    Source:   Galveston County Daily News August 5, 2014

 Enjoy quinoa – a gluten-free superfood

By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina    Professor of Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at UTMB.

Quinoa, pronounced “keen-WA,” is a food grown in the high Andes, primarily Bolivia and Peru.

It is not technically a grain nor a cereal, but botanically something in between. It has been a staple in those Andean countries for centuries, though with the worldwide increase in demand, they are finding it harder to afford since most of their production is exported. It does not grow well in the United States.

Why the recent interest in quinoa? We are in an era when rightly or wrongly people are avoiding gluten like the plague. Gluten is a protein common in wheat, barley, rye and oats, among other foods. With the trend to avoid gluten, quinoa fills a gap with a healthful grain-like product that fits well with many recipes…

The catch for gluten-phobes is that taboulleh is usually made with bulgur wheat and despite its wonderful taste and nourishing qualities, it has that old gluten fiend lurking around the parsley, onions and tomatoes.

Quinoa has the highest protein level of any of the usual or exotic grains, and is rich in magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorus and riboflavin.  The sales of quinoa in the U.S. have risen dramatically. Since 2007, U.S. imports have swelled from around 1 million to more than 14 million pounds a year. The price has also risen from around $4 per pound to more than $7.50.  Is it worth it? I think so, since this is a really healthy protein source, especially when we compare its nutritional value, fat content and cost to various meats and even fish. It is highly flexible in the kitchen. For example, quinoa can be substituted for rice, couscous, barley, pasta and other grains and high carb starches in most recipes.

At a lunch medical conference recently, one of the team from the University of Texas Medical Branch’s colorectal surgery group brought an awesome quinoa salad her chef husband (Chef Marshall, Coastal Catering) had whipped up. I had no problem going for a second portion…

Now whether or not you are gluten sensitive or allergic, give quinoa a try at your table. It is a healthy, easy, fun food to cook with lots of interesting possibilities for the palate.

 Quinoa Veggie Salad - Coastal Catering


6 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups black beans
1⁄2 cup cucumber, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup celery, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup red pepper, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup yellow pepper, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup broccoli, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup cauliflower, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup tomato, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup red cabbage, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup corn, roughly chopped
Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste


1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1 cup canola oil
1 cup basil or cilantro
Mix together all of salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
Purée all of the dressing ingredients in a blender.
Pour the dressing to taste over the salad and serve.


MAKES: 12 cups




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