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Quinoa..now feel ill..

I made quinoa for the first time yesterday. The recipe I used did not inform me that quinoa was a 'dirty grain' and that it needed to be rinsed... so I did not.

Also, the box has a SELL BY DATE of 3 months ago... which I did not see when I used/consumed it (also, online sources say it should be fine.).

Nonetheless, I have had severe nausea and a headache since I ate it. Has anyone had this type of reaction? Is it due to not rinsing it? Or could it be that it was old? Allergy?

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  1. Coincidence. We ate quinoa, fo years, in many poor conditions living in Bolivia. Never got sick.

    1. Quinoa is coated in a soap-like substance. Not rinsing it away certainly could cause stomach upset but I would have thought that you'd have tasted the saponins and found the flavor to be unpleasant.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Njchicaa

        It was mixed in with a sauce and lots of spices--so I did not taste anything odd--but since I have never had quinoa before, unfortunately, I doubt I would know it was 'odd-tasting.'

        1. re: GraceW

          There would be no mistaking the soap taste, even with spices and sauce. It is POTENT (and awful tasting) if the quinoa wasn't rinsed. I doubt the quinoa itself caused the issues. I would look to the other ingredients in your sauce, other things you ate that day (as food poisoning doesn't necessarily hit instantaneously), or chalk it up to mere coincidence.

          1. re: GraceW

            The first Quinoa that made me sick was Bob's Red Mill I think, it was past the expiration date as well, I didn't rinse it... I cooked it with organic chicken broth and flavored with salt and olive oil that I used every day. The second quinoa, was already prepared and frozen and tasted great from Trader Joe's and I cooked with organic vegetable broth and I felt sick again.

        2. What brand of Quinoa was it? Bob's Red Mill Quinoa needs rinsing to remove the saponins, while Ancient Harvest Quinoa comes pre-rinsed. I have used Ancient Harvest many times without rinsing and have had no problems.

          I doubt that the "age" of the quinoa was the cause of your ailments; could have been a reaction to the saponins on the quinoa, or something else you ate, or as another poster mentioned, a mere coincidence.

          2 Replies
          1. re: janniecooks

            I use the white (brown?) quinoa from Whole Foods bulk bins and I have rinsed and not rinsed and did not get a soapy taste (saponins - new word for me) at all. I guess they are pre-rinsed then? Does anyone know if this is the case or do different WFs carry different varieties of quinoa.

            1. re: Dax

              Different WFs will sell different ones based on regional availability of commodities. For example, I know that the red and white ones available here in BC are triple washed and guaranteed up to something ridiculous like 99.3% purity. The black ones are only single washed and come with no purity statement. Or at least, that's how it was 2 years ago. 4 years ago, the white was only single washed.

          2. As others have said, the coating that needs to be rinsed has an unmistakable soap flavor. If your dish didn't taste like soap, chances are the quinoa you used was pre-rinsed. If it didn't smell rancid and there wasn't visible mold, I wouldn't worry about the sell by date. Quinoa is a staple food, and the sell by date is not the same as an expiration date. Finally, in my experience stomach illness is rarely related to the food we think it is. You could have a virus, or could have eaten something the meal or day before the quinoa that just happened to catch up with you when you ate the quinoa. I supposed it's possible you are intolerant to quinoa, just as some people with gluten intolerance get headaches and digestive distress. It's also possible that something else in the dish disagreed with you.

            I wouldn't write quinoa off based on this one experience - try in again with a different recipe (and making sure it's rinsed). If you get sick again, it isn't proof of a quinoa intolerance, but it would be enough for me to avoid it in the future.

            1. Nothing bad can come of not rinsing quinoa unless it's contaminated by something other than its own dust, and quinoa remains viable (i.e. sproutable) for years, so being past the sell-by date shouldn't be a problem for anything except flavor. But quinoa does have a weird chemical makeup and is hard for some people to digest. For years, I used to eat it as my principal grain, but when my health slipped, I found it harder and harder to digest until finally it gave me a stomach and head ache every time I ate it. My doctor suggested that in my compromised state I wasn't producing the same digestive enzymes I used to. Maybe yours is an enzyme/digestion/food sensitivity issue, too.