Grain of the Week: Quinoa

Quinoa


Quinoa, often described as a "superfood" or a "supergrain," has become popular among the health conscious, with good reason. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah or ke-NO-ah) is packed with protein, fiber and various vitamins and minerals.

Quinoa is actually not a grain, but a pseudo-cereal, a seed that is prepared and consumed like a grain. Quinoa grows in a rainbow of colors, but the most commonly available are red quinoa, black quinoa and white quinoa. Taste and nutrition are similar among the colors. White quinoa tends to cook up fluffier, while red quinoa and black quinoa have a crunchier texture and the grains don’t stick together as much. It is also gluten-free and is recommended for those on a gluten-free diet. Quinoa is relatively simple to prepare. When cooked, it becomes slightly translucent, with a white stem coming off of the circular shape.

Nutrition Information: 1 cup of cooked Quinoa provides 222 calories, 8.1g protein, 39.4g carbs, 5.2g of fiber, 3.6 g Fat.  Quinoa is a good source of several minerals, including manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate, iron, magnesium and zinc.

How to Cook Quinoa: Quinoa-to-Water Ratio

If you can cook rice, you can cook quinoa. Here’s the simplest way to cook quinoa: Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water (or broth) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. When it’s cooked it will look slightly translucent and the white “string,” which is actually part of the hull, will be visible. One cup dry quinoa yields 3 cups cooked or 6 (½-cup) servings. Keep in mind how fluffy quinoa gets when you’re putting it into soups—don’t add too much or you’ll find all your liquid has disappeared.

How to Enjoy

  • Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad.
  • Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
  • For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa.
  • Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
  • Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups.
  • Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.
  • Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat with which this Middle Eastern dish is usually made. 

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