Is Quinoa Paleo?

Paleo 101: Is Quinoa Paleo?

Raw uncooked quinoa
Raw quinoa grain. Sarka Babicka

Quinoa has been “all the rage” the last few years. Huffington Post’s Rahel Gabreyes contributes this to three things; It’s gluten-free, it’s considered a superfood, and with 9 essential aminos it’s considered a great source of protein. See the full article here.


While these three characteristics might be true of quinoa, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s Paleo.



At first glance you may think that it is a grain- so how is it gluten free?

The thing that makes it gluten free is the very fact that it is not a grain. You see quinoa is actually a seed.  In the beginning, it was cultivated by civilizations around the areas of Peru.


Traditionally, as well in modern day, quinoa is cooked similar to rice and used in many different dishes.






Even though quinoa is not a grain and it is gluten free, it still doesn’t provide what traditional Paleo foods do. It’s like eating the less healthy food on a healthy food list.

So while it is also a good source of protein, it is still not as beneficial as you leafy green…know what I mean?


Quinoa is also known to affect different people in different ways and is said to have a high Glycemic Index. Glycemic Index is basically a scale of which foods are rated on how quickly they affect your blood sugar.


In addition to having a high Glycemic Index, Quinoa is also known to have a high content of carbohydrates.

According to, in a half cup of cooked quinoa, there is about 20 grams of carbohydrates. Can you say “carb overload”?




While I understand the struggles of giving up wheat and other wheat-like products, it is important to cut these types of foods from your diet. There are plenty of alternatives that can provide the same comfort feeling without all of the unhealthy detriments.


One of the best alternatives is a sweet potato. Sure it has vastly different taste and textures, but it can provide that hearty full feeling just like you get when you eat grains.


Another great alternative are “zoodles” or noodles made from zucchini. Or any type of veggie noodle for that matter. It might make you feel as if you are eating noodles, without all of the gluten and other stunting elements to your Paleo ways.


You can also find several other great alternatives on Some of which also include mushrooms, eggplant, and a few others.



With most foods on Paleo, if you aren’t sure if it fits the guideline, skip it and find something else. There are so many wonderful ingredients and meals if you just take the time to search. So when in doubt, LEAVE IT OUT!