You may or may not be familiar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). It is relatively new to most people but has been cultivated in South America for over 5,000 years. The ancient Incas considered it sacred, referring to it as the "mother grain".
So Why Should You Be Eating Quinoa
Quinoa is used as a grain, but it is actually a seed from a leafy green plant distantly related to spinach.
It is a complete protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids, which is unusual for a plant. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle and are required for proper growth, maintenance and repair of the body. This makes quinoa ideal for vegans and vegetarians who can find it difficult to get adequate protein.
It's extremely versatile and can be used in salads, casseroles, soups and stir fries. It's also great as a warm breakfast cereal. It's much lighter than grains and starchy foods so you don't feel sluggish or overly full after eating it. Qualities that have made it popular among athletes and celebrities.
The most popular and readily available quinoa is the yellowish / white variety, but there are quite a few varieties on the market including red, orange, black and purple. I have tried red quinoa, which is naturally firmer than the yellow / white, it's nice from time to time, but I personally prefer the more common yellow / white variety.
Vitamin And Mineral Content
Besides quinoa's excellent protein content it also contains:
– B1 (Thiamine)
– B2 (Riboflavin)
– B6 (Pyridoxine)
Taste And Texture
Quinoa has a protective outer coating of bitter tasting saponins which must be removed before eating. Traditionally this was done by rinsing and soaking for a few hours and then repeating. Fortunately most commercially available quinoa has already been rinsed, removing the saponins. I still rinse the seeds in a fine mesh strainer and then allow them to drain for a minute before cooking.
Quinoa's texture is determined by how long you cook it. You cook pretty much the same way as you would rice, using double the amount of water as the amount of grain, so 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. Letting it cook for 10 minutes and then turning off the heat and setting aside to absorb any left over liquid will give you a soft fluffy texture. Or if you want a firmer more nutty texture, remove from the heat after ten minutes and rinse under cold water for a second or two, to prevent further cooking.
Here's A Tip To Speed Up Cooking Time
I have recently started to soak quinoa in a bowl overnight, and then rinse it and drain before cooking. Soaking overnight really speed up the cooking time, about 6 minutes!
A Basic Quinoa Recipe
There are endless recipes out there for quinoa, but I like this basic one best.
You will need:
– 1 cup quinoa
– 2 cups boiling water (reduce water if quinoa was soaked overnight)
– 1/2 onion
– 1/2 red bell pepper
– 1/2 organic vegetable stock cube
– freshly ground black pepper to taste
– coconut oil
1. Boil water and add stock cube.
2. Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a saucepan or pot over a medium heat.
3. Chop onions and red pepper in a small food processor or by hand if you don't have a small food processor. Add to the saucepan and saute while you rinse the quinoa.
4. Turn the heat up high and add the quinoa and boiling water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to medium heat again. If you have pre-soaked the quinoa cook for about 6 minutes, having used less water it should be absorbed in this time, otherwise cook for 10 minutes.
5. When the water is almost completely absorbed, remove from heat add ground black pepper, mix in and then leave to absorb any remaining liquid.
This recipe is great as a replacement for rice, pasta or potatoes in any dish. It also holds quite well in the refrigerator, but best to use it up within a day or two or cooking.
So I hope you enjoyed this article and decide to give quinoa a try. I have many more articles on my free health and fitness site (the link is below) including the many health benefits of coconut oil. Feel free to check it out.