Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Curious About Quinoa?

(c) 2011, Kathy Fannon (Dry Quinoa)

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has the highest nutritional profile and cooks the fastest of all grains. It is an extremely high-energy grain and has been grown and consumed for about 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America. The Incas were able to run such long distances at such a high altitude because of this powerful grain.

  • Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
  • Has a protein content equal to milk
  • High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium & vitamin E
  • Gluten-free; easy to digest
  • Ideal food for endurance
  • Strengthens the kidneys, heart, and lungs

When quinoa is cooked, the outer germ surrounding the seed breaks open to form a crunchy coil while the inner grain becomes soft and translucent. This double texture makes it delicious, versatile and fun to eat. To save time, cook a lot of quinoa at once and eat it many times. 

Quinoa can be reheated with a splash of soy or nut milk for breakfast porridge; you can add dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad or add chopped cooked root vegetables for a warming side dish. 

Store dry, uncooked quinoa in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed glass jar for up to one year.

Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Saponin, when removed from quinoa, produces a soapy solution in water. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use.  Place quinoa in a grain strainer and rinse thoroughly with water.

(c) Integrative Nutrition

I love to make basic quinoa to have with chicken. Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes, so it can be ready to eat before the baked chicken is! Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and just a little crunch.

This Quinoa Tabouli makes a great side dish for dinner or a light lunch.

I like to make extra to use for Whole Wheat-Honey Quinoa Muffins, which I freeze to have available for a snack or to eat with an egg and some fruit for breakfast. Just thaw in the microwave for about 20 seconds!

I buy the pre-rinsed quinoa and don't re-rinse it like suggested, but that's because I don't have a mesh strainer with holes small enough to hold the quinoa. They are very small grains that go right through! So be sure to pay attention to what you are selecting at the store.