Quinoa - (keen-WA)
Cooking with Quinoa - Nutrition, Tips, and Recipe Ideas
Quinoa is an edible seed of a South American grain crop. Its superfood status is not without merit. Here is everything you need to know.
Quinoa (pronounced "keen-WA") has been a staple food in the Andes region of South America for thousands of years. It was "discovered" by the rest of the world only recently, and is now a household name associated with healthy eating.
Quinoa is a complete protein
A complete protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks of proteins in the body. Quinoa is one of the only plant sources of protein that is complete. A 1-cup serving has 8 grams of protein, making it a favorite with vegetarians and vegans.
Learn more about complete proteins here.
Quinoa is a great source of iron
A 1-cup serving of quinoa has 38% of the daily value of iron. That's equivalent to an 8-oz beef steak! To improve the iron's absorption, it's advisable to consume it alongside a vitamin-C food source such as bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, parsley, citrus fruit, and strawberries.
Quinoa is a great source of fiber
A cup of quinoa has 5 grams of fiber. Compare that to a cup of rice with less than 1 gram, and even brown rice, with 3.5 grams of fiber.
Quinoa has a low glycemic index
The lower the glycemic index of a food, the slower it raises blood sugar. Quinoa is great for people living with diabetes, who need to control their blood sugar levels.
Quinoa is gluten-free
Although it is used culinarily as a grain, Quinoa is actually a pseudo cereal. Thus it has become a friend to many people with celiac disease and sensitivity to gluten.
Quinoa cooking basics
Cooking quinoa is truly child's play. Once you've cooked quinoa, the options are endless.
One cup of dry quinoa yields 3 cups of fluffy cooked quinoa. Add a cup of rinsed quinoa to 2 cups of boiling water in a covered saucepan. Bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and wait 5 more minutes.
Some people prefer to boil the quinoa in chicken stock for improved flavor.
You can add quinoa to almost any salad to add some crunch and up the protein count.
Quinoa is a great replacement for rice and pasta in many dishes. In fact, you can prepare quinoa in your rice cooker, same 1:2 ratio as above.
You can store cooked quinoa in a sealed container for 5 days in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer.
Note: quinoa leaves and fruit are coated with a toxin called saponin. It minimizes the need for pesticide in the fields, but may cause digestive aches. Saponin has a bitter, soapy taste that some people are sensitive to. It's best to rinse your quinoa thoroughly in a mesh strainer before cooking.