Quinoa is an interesting ingredient because it presents the rare characteristic to be a complete plant-based protein.
Let me explain what I mean:
We all know that our body uses proteins for building our body tissues and muscles, for the regeneration of our cells and the production of hormones, etc. and that is why we need to eat protein-rich food.
But not any kind of proteins will do. It is really important that we get from our food a complete protein. One that will content all the amino acids that we cannot synthesised ourselves and yet need to build our body: the so-called *essential* amino acids.
Animal based proteins are complete. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy products... they all contain the essential amino acids our body requires.
Unfortunately this is not the case with plant-based proteins. If you rely on protein-rich cereals only, you will be lacking of some specific amino acids and your body will not be able to use that protein to build your tissues. Similarly, if you only eat legumes, even though they are rich in proteins, they are incomplete and, similarly, do not provide all the amino acids your body requires.
Interestingly - and luckily for vegans! - there is a solution. If you combine cereals and legumes in a meal, then you suddenly create a complete protein! It is not by accident that so many traditional vegetarian dishes from all around the world combine both ingredients: chickpeas & couscous (Northern Africa); lentils & rice (India); corn & kidney beans (Mexico).
But there is one plant that offers a complete protein and that is quinoa. Voilà!