If you haven’t heard of quinoa, it’s time you did. In the last couple of years, quinoa has grown in popularity, not just for it’s powerhouse profile but also because it’s a top palate pleaser.

quinoaWhat is quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEH-wah) is a tiny, ancient seed, hailing from Peru. It was cultivated by the Incan tribes in the Andes Mountains of South America.

What does it taste like?
It has a mild, nutty flavour, and a texture crossed between cous cous and brown rice.

What’s it used for?
It’s most often used like a grain, replacing rice, millet, pastas, and barley in favourite dishes.

Why is it so darn good for you?
Quinoa’s protein content is superior to any other grain, notably because it contains all of the essential amino acids. Our body cannot create them – they must get them from food – so it’s important to consume them all whenever possible. If an animal-free diet is your route, few meatless proteins contain all amino acids, so quinoa is a great way to provide yourself with a well-rounded protein.

Quinoa is also high in lysine, which is an amino acid important for tissue and growth repair.

(Oh, and it’s a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and iron, too).

So basically….?
Quinoa has twice the protein of most other cereal grains, has fewer carbohydrates, and packs in some healthy fats in the form of Omega 3’s.

How do I cook it?
It’s important to give it a rinse first, because they are naturally coated with a  bitter substance to prevent birds and other creatures to nosh it first. Some brands don’t seem to need a rinse (notably Bob’s Red Mill). You can throw caution in the wind and cook it up once without doing it, and see how it pan’s out.

Quinoa to water is a 1:2 ratio. Bring water to a boil, add quinoa, reduce, cover and simmer for 13 minutes. Remove from heat and either enjoy right away, or let sit, covered for about 10 more minutes, depending on your taste.

But to make it easier, follow the directions on the package you buy.

To tell if it’s done…
The seeds produce a white, thread-like portion that curls around them.

Incorporating Quinoa into Your Everyday Diet

  • Because it cooks up quicker than rice (the real stuff… Put away the minute rice), it’s a perfect substitution for anything you’d usually use rice for – stir-fries, risotto, pilaf . And don’t forget main dishes, like stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls.
  • Opt for quinoa instead of oats as a sweet breakfast cereal, with fresh fruit, and a little maple syrup. Boil it in milk (dairy or non-dairy) with a cinnamon stick. You can also buy quinoa flakes.
  • Add to your favourite soup in lieu of other grains to make it a protein packed main meal
  • Substitute up to a 1/3 of your next baked good’s flour total with quinoa flour instead
  • Give quinoa flakes a try for a spin on your favourite oatmeal raisin cookie
  • Try it in our recent recipe for Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad, as a quick fix side dish

Where to buy:

Companies to try:
Bob’s Red Mill: bobsredmill.com
Ancient Harvest: quinoa.net

Try our delicious Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad

Image courtesy of healthnode.org

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