“I get a stomach ache from quinoa. Will rinsing and soaking help?” asks Susan on today's #AskWardee. I'm sharing my thoughts below!
The Question: “I get a stomach ache from quinoa. Will soaking and rinsing help?”
“I have eaten quinoa twice and developed SEVERE abdominal pain afterward. I didn't make the connection until today, when it happened again. Before I always had something else to blame it on. I ran an Internet search, and apparently it's a common problem. I've been working in your traditional practices for a few years now, and my family actually prefers to eat at home, because we “feel” better. Now the question: will rinsing the quinoa be enough to get rid of the saponins, or should I soak it overnight with vinegar water before preparing? Can you think of anything else? I love the taste and health benefits, but the knotting abdominal pain is so intense, I'm afraid to keep trying it.
Thank you for all you have shared, and all that you do. Your information has truly transformed our lives, and I continue to forward your site to others. You have been a blessing!!”
Why do you get a stomach ache from quinoa?
The bitter fibrous coating around quinoa grains is called saponin. (Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, FYI.)
These saponins repel insects, like a natural pesticide. While it's good for growing quinoa, it's not so good for us to eat. You can get a stomach ache from eating quinoa because it irritates your digestive system, plus it just tastes bitter.
Quinoa should always be rinsed.
To rinse, put your quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under hard, cold, running water for at least 2 minutes. Rotate the strainer around so all the seeds are rinsed well.
Some brands are pre-washed but in my experience, buying bulk quinoa, it is not pre-rinsed so I do it myself.
Quinoa should always be soaked!
It's a good idea to soak quinoa (as you should any grains, bean, nut, or seed). Soaking ensures that you get the maximum nutrition and you don't get a stomach ache from quinoa.
Quinoa contains phytic acid, like other grains, nuts, and seeds. If not neutralized, this phytic acid prevents mineral absorption.
To soak: first, rinse like I described above, then combine quinoa with warm water in a bowl or pot with 1 tablespoon of acid (such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or whey) per cup of water. Soak in a warm location for 7 to 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Then cook as you normally would, adding salt or fat. If you prefer to drain away the acid (some don't like the hint of sour… but I do ), catch the drained water so you can measure it and replace with fresh water or broth.
I teach how to soak and cook grains (as well as nuts/seeds and beans) in my free Traditional Cooking video series. Sign up for that here.
- Free Traditional Cooking Videos — see how to soak grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, plus get handy charts
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Have you ever gotten a stomach ache from quinoa? Do you soak and rinse quinoa?
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