Quinoa—that ancient grain with a nutty flavour and a persistent presence in chic salad bowls over the past decade—has surprised us again. In addition to being a fibre, protein, and vitamin powerhouse, Washington State University researchers have discovered that quinoa flour works demonstrably well as a cookie additive. And, unlike many other “healthy” additions to indulgent foods that should never have happened (ugh, carob), the quinoa flour actually improves the taste, texture, and “spreadability” of the cookie dough. In a study published in the Journal of Food Science, preliminary results showed that more people preferred a sugar cookie with some added quinoa flour, over an entirely wheat flour cookie.
“[R]esearchers looked at ten different quinoa breeding lines and tested them as a flour in cookies at 25% up to 100% quinoa. Many of the breeding lines held up well at the lower levels but the cookies tended to crumble as they approached 100% quinoa flour.
The preliminary results from the taste tests also show that using up to 25% quinoa flour tended to have better results. The researchers purposely chose sugar cookies for the taste test because they are plain as opposed to chocolate chip cookies which might mask any flavor from the quinoa. For the sugar cookie, a little quinoa might have an advantage, said Elizabeth Nalbandian, the study’s first author and a Ph.D. student in [study author Girish] Ganjyal’s lab.
‘I think at 10%, quinoa added a type of nutty flavor that people really liked,’ she said, noting the testers liked it even more than the control whole flour cookie.”
The Washington state connection meant researchers had skin in the game: The two types of quinoa that came out on top in the results are specifically bred to grow in the Pacific Northwest climate. But I think this good news applies to all cookie lovers—especially those of us wanting to consider our health, while not giving up the fun things in life! Hmm, I wonder if David might be willing to whip up a batch of his famous chocolate chip cookies with a dash of quinoa in them…? For fun—and for science!