Quinoa (Chenopdium quinoa, or goosefoot) is rapidly becoming a favorite food among health conscious individuals. The health benefits of quinoa are many. It is delicious, nutritious, has a wide variety of uses in a healthy diet. It is also not super expensive.
It is becoming known as a superfood, or a supergrain. It is known to be an ancient grain originating in South America. It is pronounced “keen-wa”.
Quinoa an annual plant with pretty red or burgundy spiked blooms before turning to seed. It can be grown quite easily in gardens where summers do not get too hot. Many times quinoa is used as a grain, or a grain substitute.
Іt is considered a complete protein, which can be difficult to find in a plant source. This makes quinoa an amazing component to vegans and vegetarians diets. It can sometimes be a challenge to get adequate protein intake.
Quinoa can be used in casseroles, salads, soups and stir fried meals. It’s also great as a hot breakfast cereal, and doesn’t usually leave someone feeling heavy and bloated. Because of its small size, it also makes a great food for older babies and toddlers. It’s mild flavor is very appealing.
The Whole Grains Counsel dedicates the month of March as Quinoa being the grain of the month.
Varieties of Quinoa
There may be literally hundreds of varieties of quinoa, but they usually fall into 3 broad range categories.
Black – The black varieties are usually harder to find due to its difficult growing conditions. It is slightly harder to find than other varieties. It has a slightly sweeter taste than the other varieties. Black quinoa can add wonderful color, and visual interest to any dish.
Red – Red quinoa sometimes carry a tangier flavor and a bit crunchier texture. It has a slightly higher calorie and protein count than the gold variety. The color, adds beauty and a touch of creativity to any dish.
Gold – Gold or cream colored quinoa is the most common type you’ll find. It’s equally good in hot or cold dishes, as a breakfast cereal, or used in baked goods. For many recipes using couscous, gold quinoa can easily be substituted. The same is true for recipes containing rice, the gold quinoa can be used as a substitute.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Quinoa has the highest source of protein of any grain, packing an average of 16%. In addition to its rich source of protein, it also possesses zinc, phosphorus, magnesium B1 (Thiamine), B6 and B2.
It is a great alternative for those needing to abide by a gluten free diet. It tends to help a person feel full longer, and can be beneficial to diabetics as well.
Taste and Texture of Quinoa
Quinoa has an outer coating of saponins which must be removed before eating. Most store bought quinoa has already been rinsed with the saponins removed. A person can learn how to manually do this as well.
How to Cook Quinoa
Quinoa is cooked pretty much as you would rice. Use double the amount of water to the amount of grain. Boil for 10 minutes then remove from heat. Set aside for a few minutes to absorb any left over liquid. Fluff with a fork.
If a firmer texture is wanted, when removing from heat, pour into a strainer and rinse in cold water to stop further cooking. It can also be cooked in a rice cooker appliance.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1/2 sweet onion
- 1/2 ripe red bell pepper
- 1/2 vegetable stock cube or 1/2 T. of powdered version
- 1 T. Coconut oil
- Black pepper and salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp. curry powder
- Optional – dried cranberries or walnuts
Cook the quinoa in boiling water with the vegetable stock. While this is cooking, put coconut oil in a pan and simmer the onions and sweet bell peppers until tender. When both are finished cooking and the liquid is absorbed into the quinoa, pour into the sauteed vegetables, and add the salt, pepper and curry powder and allow to simmer about 5 minutes.
This recipe can easily be customized to include any vegetable, and many different spices and herbs.
Other quinoa products are now available too, like quinoa flour, chips, and pasta to name a few. There are also some amazing cookbooks out there dedicated entirely to quinoa. Now that you know the health benefits of quinoa, it might just become a staple in your family’s healthy diet.
Until next time,