This week’s Get To Know is Quinoa. You may have seen this “superfood” around (pronouced KEEN-wah), and wondered what all the hype is about.
Often mistaken for a whole grain, quinoa is actually a seed from a vegetable plant similar to chard or spinach. Originating in the Andes, the Inca’s called it Chisaya Mama, or “Mother of all grains”. Until recently it has mostly been grown in that region, but as it has gained popularity it is now grown in other mountainous places such as Colorado.
5 Benefits of Quinoa
- Quinoa is high in protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids. A half cup serving of cooked quinoa provides 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, and 156 calories.
- Since it’s not a grain or related to wheat, it’s gluten free. As more people are gravitating away from wheat for health reasons, quinoa is a healthy alternative.
- It’s a complex carbohydrate and it contains riboflavin, iron, calcium and phosphorus. The darker varieties also contain phytonutrients.
- It’s very easy to cook. Unlike brown rice which can take approximately 40 minutes to cook, Quinoa is ready in about 15-20 minutes.
- Most importantly, it’s delicious! Quinoa has a mild flavor and can be prepared as a savory side dish or as a porridge in place of oats.
How To Cook Quinoa
Quinoa is naturally coated with a substance called saponins. This layer (related to soap) can have some antiseptic properties, but it’s quite bitter and toxic in large doses. Rinsing the seeds before cooking will remove the saponins and the bitterness.
To do this I place my measured dry quinoa into a sieve, then fill a saucepan with water and dunk the sieve. I’ll drain and rinse the water 2-3 times, or until the water is clear. Then I simply dump the seeds into the drain pot and added the required water and cook.
Due to their high protein content it’s best to store quinoa in the fridge for long periods of time. In our house it doesn’t last much more than a month, so for us the cupboard is fine. As shown above quinoa comes in several colors, black, red and white. The taste is the same, so choose whichever style you prefer.
Adding Quinoa To Your Menu
Below is the basic recipe. Feel free to use in place of rice in a stir fry, add to a burrito, or toss into a salad as a wholesome carb. For breakfast you may replace the water with milk, or a nut milk to make a hot cereal. Quinoa may also be made in large batches and kept in the fridge for several days.
I hope you try making this soon- and please share with me some of your favorite recipes.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (either white, red or black)
- 2 cups water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Place the uncooked quinoa in a sieve and either rinse thoroughly under running water for 3 minutes, or dunk repeatedly in clean water and drain 2-3 times until the water runs clear.
- Place the well rinsed* quinoa into a dry saucepan and add the water and salt and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer on a low flame for 15 minutes with a loose lid on top.
- Turn off the heat and place the lid on tight and allow the quinoa to rest.
- The quinoa is ready when the water is absorbed and the white curly-que tails come out.
- Fluff with a fork and serve.
- *It's important to rinse the quinoa to remove the bitter coating called saponin from the seeds.
- To reheat leftover quinoa: Place cooked quinoa in a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of water. On a low flame gently steam the seeds until warmed though, about 10 minutes. Take care not to scorch.
- For a breakfast porridge, replace with water with milk or a nut milk.
Here are some other Quinoa recipes you may enjoy: