So you’re trying the paleo diet, the high-protein, low-carb eating plan modelled after our ancestors from 10,000 years ago. As you start to figure out what you can and can’t eat, you might find yourself wondering: Is quinoa paleo?
On the paleo diet, grains and gluten are off-limits, but seeds are okay. Quinoa is a seed, and it’s gluten-free—so it seems like a paleo-friendly option.
But here’s the catch: Quinoa also has a lot of grain-like qualities. It’s considered a “pseudo-grain,” according to Maggie Michalczyk, RD. “It’s very versatile and eaten similarly to how we consume grains like rice.”
So is quinoa paleo?
No. Even though quinoa is packed with tons of good stuff—like fibre and protein—it doesn’t comply with the paleo diet, which excludes all grains and pseudo-grains. The carbohydrate count in quinoa is pretty high; one cup of it in cooked form contains 39 grams of carbs—not so great for a low-carb diet.
If you’re strictly paleo, you’ll have to say goodbye to your favourite quinoa oatmeal or puffed snack bar.
There’s no getting around it, either.
“You cannot make quinoa paleo, but if you’re missing grains, try cauliflower rice, broccoli rice, butternut squash noodles, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash to add that grain and pasta-like bulk to your meal,” Michalczyk says. These are all paleo-friendly, and can still taste great with the right additions and flavors.
People who follow the diet more loosely (you know, “paleo-ish”) may still choose to eat it. But if you want to follow the paleo diet to a tee, quinoa is a no.
By Isadora Baum