If you are looking for information about the hottest food trends for 2019, as well as the full scoop on quinoa and how adding quinoa recipes to your menu will boost your biz, you have come to the right place. Whether you manage a restaurant, catering service, or food truck, trend-watching is an essential element in keeping your customers interested, and industry reports indicate that demand for ancient grains is up over 11%. In addition to grains such as amaranth, millet, spelt, and teff, taking the top spot and climbing the consumer popularity charts is quinoa.
Quinoa the Top Trending Grain
“Quinoa is probably number one in trending grains,” according to Mike Kostyo, senior publications manager for Datassential, the renowned food industry market research firm. Not only are quinoa menu options up 350% over the past four years, but this ‘mother of all grains’ appears on one out of every five casual restaurant menus, which, in the words of Kostyo, is a remarkable achievement for “something a decade ago most people had never heard of.”
In addition, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2018 Food & Health Survey, ancient grains are stealing the market reigns from yesterday’s rice and pasta staples – and more importantly, stealing the hearts and stomachs of consumers worldwide. Adding yet another notch in quinoa’s proverbial belt, Global Data surveys reveal that millennials are more likely to choose new foods and try novel flavors, with 79% saying they “enjoy experimenting with products from different cultures or countries.”
If you are a savvy foodservice professional, you already know that demand for healthier food choices continues to rise and you have adjusted your menu accordingly. But if you are still looking for info on quinoa, the current crème of the crop, read on and learn…
Ironically, much of today’s hype about diners being more daring and open to seeking new culinary adventures is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to quinoa. The fact is that quinoa has been on the map for millennium, dating back to when it was an important crop in the Inca Empire. And while it has only recently achieved ‘superfood’ status in the Western Hemisphere and become a top-selling product in health food stores, supermarkets, and restaurants worldwide, quinoa has been consumed for thousands of years in South America.
Perhaps you are familiar with the following quotation, which has been widely published in food industry articles, newspaper clippings, and websites:
“While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom.”
But did you know that these now-famous words first appeared in researcher Philip White’s 1955 article on “Edible Seed Products of the Andes Mountains”? Since then, of course, knowledge and consumption of quinoa has spread well beyond the Andean highlands, to the point where new quinoa recipes are constantly being introduced, tingling the taste buds and pleasing the palates of quinoa fans everywhere.
Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is technically not an actual cereal grain but rather a ‘pseudo-cereal’ – that is, a food that cooks and digests like a grain and has a similar nutritional profile. There are three types of quinoa – white, red, and black – all sharing the same nutritional value. Note that it is one of only a few plant foods containing all nine essential amino acids (proteins) and that quinoa is also gluten-free, making it a particularly ideal menu choice for your vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-intolerant customers. And if that weren’t enough, quinoa has also earned its status as one of the world’s most popular health foods – as this ancient grain is high in fiber, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin E, phosphorus, and antioxidants.
The following are the nutrients contained in 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa:
- 222 calories
- 39 grams carbohydrates
- 4 grams fat
- 8 grams protein
- 5 grams fiber
- 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of manganese
- 30% of the RDA of magnesium
- 28% of the RDA of phosphorus
- 19% of the RDA of folate
- 18% of the RDA of copper
- 15% of the RDA of iron
- 13% of the RDA of zinc
- 9% of the RDA of potassium
- Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2, B6
- Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin), vitamin E
- Most of quinoa’s natural fiber is actually insoluble; despite this, however, its fiber content is still significantly higher than found in other grains
- Quinoa is gluten-free and a great alternative for gluten-restricted individuals who don’t want to part with their favorite breads, pastas, and flours. But did you know that quinoa outshines most other gluten-free foods in nutrient and antioxidant value? (including, for example, gluten-free rice flour, corn flour, tapioca flour, and potato flour)
- Containing all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is considered a “complete protein” (essential amino acids cannot be produced by your body and are only obtained via diet)
- The Whole Grains Council, which features and celebrates a different whole grain every month of the calendar year, has named Quinoa March’s Grain of the Month
- Although most of the world’s quinoa is grown in the Andes, namely Peru and Bolivia, some North American companies are now producing the grain – for example, Ardent Mills introduced Great Plains Quinoa, grown on the Canadian high plains
- Finally, two simple chef’s secrets on how to maximize the unique flavor, taste, and texture of quinoa: 1) Instead of water, cook quinoa in vegetable/chicken broth. 2) In addition to salt, add other spices during the cooking process, such as a pinch of black pepper, a sprig of fresh parsley, or a clove of crushed garlic.
- In a pot, or in a microwave bowl, heat 2 cups (240 ml) of water
- Add 1 cup (170 grams) of raw quinoa with a dash of salt
- Boil until all the liquid is absorbed (usually only a few minutes)
- Fluff with a fork – and enjoy!
- The expanded and interesting food selection provided (both in terms of chef’s recipes and consumer’s palates)
- Consumers’ increased desire for natural ingredients
- Consumers’ hunger for food with a story
- The growing demand for (plant-based) protein alternatives to meat
- The increase in gluten-free dining
- 2 cups quinoa
- 4 cups water
- 2 small butternut squash
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
- 2 seeded pomegranates
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. honey
Less-Known Quinoa Facts
If you are hungry for some quinoa trivia that most folks are unaware of, here are some lesser-known quinoa facts:
Nutritious DELICIOUS Quinoa
Best of all, quinoa is super-easy to prepare, combines well with other foods, and is almost guaranteed to help rake in profits when you add it to your menu.
The plethora of quinoa recipes available is quite staggering, but don’t forget that you can always go back to the basics, as quinoa is naturally delicious. To prepare quinoa, follow these instructions:
The Rise of Ancient Grains
Quinoa’s popularity reflects additional 2019 food industry trends, including the rise of whole grains in general. As opposed to refined grains – such as white rice and white-wheat flour – whole grains include the outer layer of the grain (the bran), as well as the middle endosperm and germ. The latter are particularly rich in dietary fiber and nutrients.
According to one restaurant owner, “You ratchet up the health value as you move from white to black rice. It used to be exotic to go from white to brown rice, and now we’re finding nutritional value moving to red and black rice varieties that are more complex and have great mouthfeel.”
While rice varieties fall under the category of traditional whole grains, it is the ancient grains that are the ‘new kids on the block’ – especially when it comes to restaurant menus. You can’t go wrong by including quinoa, as well as kamut, millet, farro, sorghum, amaranth, and buckwheat to your menu options – as they are all bound to be big hits.
But why the recent consumer interest in ancient grains? According to industry experts, some of the reasons include:
In the words of Datassential’s Mike Kostyo: “Consumers want to feel good about what they’re eating, and these ancient grains are not processed a lot, so it fits in the clean-eating trend.”
Best-Tasting Quinoa Recipes
As a side dish to any meal, as a bed for baked fish or stews, or used in salads, casseroles, and even breakfast cereals, you can’t go wrong with versatile quinoa. A fantastic addition to any recipe, here are a couple of mouthwatering favorites to end off this blog and get your chef’s own culinary creative juices flowing.
Pomegranate Butternut-Squash Quinoa
Note: It is recommended to prepare this dish one day in advance to allow the dressing to be absorbed.
- Boil the water, add quinoa, and simmer until quinoa is cooked/liquid is absorbed (approx. 20 minutes)
- Combine honey, olive oil, salt/pepper
- Cut butternut squash into small cubes and coat with honey mixture
- Roast at 200 F for 30 minutes
- Add butternut squash to quinoa
- Stir in pomegranate seeds and onions
- Mix dressing ingredients together and pour on salad
- Bon Appétit!
Sunflower Seed/Almond Quinoa Salad
Bursting with protein and fiber, this scrumptious salad also provides iron, Vitamin E, zinc, and selenium.
- 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or pine nuts
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup minced parsley or cilantro
- 2 tbsp. oil
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
- 2-3 minced garlic cloves
- Juice of 2 lemons (or 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice)
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- In a single layer, spread sunflower seeds/almonds/pine nuts on a baking pan and toast in oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.
- Boil water in a pot, add quinoa and salt, and simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix dressing ingredients together. Add quinoa and remaining ingredients.
- Toss well and season to taste with salt/pepper.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.