Fashionable Quinoa Alternatives for 2016

Words: Ally Head

From pulses to pseudo-grains, do your body a favour this Spring and see our predictions about what foodies will be loving for the year ahead

Last year was the year that saw the popularity of superfoods rocket to new levels. Spiralisers became supermarket staples, cauliflower began replacing rice and matcha became the new morning coffee. All things kale, chia and sweet potato invaded supermarket shelves, and almond milk options flooded cafés. Thanks to the influence of health and lifestyle bloggers such as Deliciously Ella, Madeline Shaw and the Hemsley sisters, many began to embrace and encourage the effect that clean eating can have on your diet, and your happiness in general.

Most notably, last year was the year of super-grain quinoa. Appearing on restaurant menus in burgers and health food stores in salads, the hearty food is originally a traditional delicacy of Southern America, and became popular served as an ideal wheat-free alternative to starchy grains. It rose to fame topping the ‘staples’ list of most well-being bloggers and health conscious chefs alike. Because of its sudden success, the grain became noticeably easier to locate, readily available to buy in supermarkets and equally as easy to incorporate into your everyday diet.

The Peruvian superfood is famous whole food guru Deliciously Ella’s ‘go-to grain’ because of its high nutritional content. Are you bored of quinoa already? Never fear – food trend forecasts predict that pulses, whole grains and other forms of pseudo-grains look set to overtake quinoa this year in the superfood grain race. Follow the trend and try one of the following as a health friendly, fashionable alternative to quinoa.


Freekeh is an ancient form of wheat harvested early when the grains are still green to preserve its high fibre, protein and mineral levels. Set to be a trend with its trademark rich, smoky flavour, the whole grain is easy to digest and jam-packed full of goodness and complex flavours. This makes it ideal for vegetarians or vegans looking for a boost, and health conscious individuals looking to try something different. What’s more, it takes only minutes to cook, and offers an exciting alternative to ordinary grains. Delicious with chickpeas, tahini and roasted cauliflower, this exotic alternative is sure to spice up your midweek meals.


Loved by Deliciously Ella and Madeline Shaw alike, buckwheat is actually a seed that is completely wheat free, and rich in iron, vitamins and minerals. This versatile staple is energising and nutritious, and can be used for a range of dishes, from porridge or granola, to salad or risotto. Buckwheat is also ideal for baking when purchased in its raw flour form. As well as being nutritionally beneficial on many levels, the up-and-coming superfood is largely inexpensive, fuss free and easy to prepare.


Pulses are hardly new on the food forecast, with the UN declaring this year the ‘International Year of the Pulses’. Offering a filling alternative to most carbohydrates and endless health benefits, lentils are set to become a replacement of the much loved quinoa this year. The seeds are high in protein and iron, and, once soaked, are delightful in casseroles, soups and salads.


Bulgur is a Middle Eastern whole wheat, used frequently in popular Arabian dish Tabouleh. As a whole grain, it is naturally high in fibre and protein, low fat and low calorie. Bulgur is steamed before it is sold, meaning it is prepared to the point that it is half cooked. This is ideal for quick dinners, taking a mere 10 minutes to prepare. It can be used similarly to rice or couscous as a side accompaniment for most meals, and is set to overtake quinoa in the food trends for this year.

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