Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is often referred to as a grain, but technically it’s a seed and is closely related to the spinach and beet families. It is used like and cooks like a grain, but it has a higher nutritional profile and cooks faster than any grain. It is an extremely high-energy food and has been grown and consumed for about 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America.
- 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. Store dry, uncooked quinoa in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed glass jar for up to one year.
How to Make Quinoa Taste Good
Wash It. Each seed of quinoa is covered in a bitter tasting coating called saponin. You can either rinse it until the water runs clean (a fine mesh strainer is essential) or you can soak them in cold water for a few minutes to several hours. Soaking has the added benefit of removing phytic acid – an anti nutrient that is common to all grains and seeds. It blocks the body’s ability to absorb nutrients because minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium bind to it. The longer you soak the more phytic acid is neutralized. Soaking also increases digestibility and vitamins levels. You can buy quinoa pre-washed (Tru Roots is my favorite brand). They even sell a sprouted quinoa that has been soaked for you. And, although a time saver, it is also more expensive so you might prefer to do it yourself.
Use Broth Instead of Water. Instead of cooking quinoa in water, use a good quality chicken broth or vegetable broth. This little step makes a huge difference.
Dress It Up. Make a good homemade salad dressing such as Mustard Vinigarette and mix it in after the quinoa is cooked. It will add flavor as well as soften the dry texture. One of my favorite ways to eat quinoa is to mix with salad dressing, finely chopped veggies, protein from meat or beans and a little cheese.
Use as a Substitute for Rice. Layer quinoa at the bottom of a bowl when serving homemade soup, chili or stew. Or if you are ordering take out such as Chinese or Indian, skip the white rice and use your own cooked quinoa instead. It will make for a much more nutritious meal.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1.5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- sea salt and pepper - to taste
- Bring broth to boil in a medium size sauce pan
- Once boiling, add quinoa and reduce heat to low
- Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes
- Let rest rest for 5 minutes , then fluff with fork