Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is often served in high-class or health conscious restaurants. It is also served at dinner parties even when most of the attenders confuse it for rice or couscous. However, a large majority of people do not even know how to pronounce it never mind what it actually is! It looks like rice, but does not taste like rice or pasta. It can be used in place of pasta in soup or other dishes, but does not have the same texture as pasta or noodles. The seeds have a distinct flavor and a slight crunch. It can be an especially beneficial health benefit for vegetarians and people who live gluten-free. Most people know it is healthy and beneficial for your body, but the details of what it is and how to prepare it is a mystery.
- What is Quinoa?
- Which grains are best for cooking?
- Nutrition facts
- How to cook – recipes
- How to cook on the stove top
- How to cook in a rice cooker
- How to cook in the oven
- How to cook quinoa – video
- Most common mistakes
- How healthy is?
- Health benefits
- How to store
- Interesting facts
- Can I grow quinoa myself?
- Top 5 reasons you should try to taste
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a protein that contains the nine amino acids the body needs to consume to stay healthy. It is the only grain/seed that can provide all of the essential amino acids. Consumers usually think of it as a grain, but the part that is actually consumed is a seed. It is easily related to grains because of the appearance and texture but it is not. Quinoa comes from the goosefoot plant, which has a tendency to have a strong smell.
Types of grains
There are 3 different types of quinoa and different variations of how someone can consume it. It comes in three different colors- white, red and black. They have different flavors and are best used in different ways as well. People can consume quinoa the way it appears in stores or can explore the different ways to prepare quinoa flakes. The flakes can be an alternative to oatmeal for breakfast in the mornings and are prepared in much the same way as oatmeal. Flour from these seeds are also available for purchase in some specialty stores as well. The flour is an excellent choice for gluten free cooking and can be used as an alternative to other gluten free flours with less health benefits.
White seeds are the most common form of quinoa and can be purchased in most grocery stores. This type of the seed tends to be less crunchy than the other types of quinoa available and is a good option for serving as a side dish.
Red grains has one more gram of protein than its white counterpart, but the health benefits are so plentiful one gram may not make too much of a difference. Red quinoa can have more of a bite to it than the white quinoa, but if cooked correctly is still an excellent choice. Red would be best served in dishes that need a pop of color. It provides an appetizing appearance to side dishes and salads!
It is different from the red and white versions of this health food. It has a crunchier texture and a strong flavor to it. It has a higher fiber content than white quinoa and is distinctly different in taste. The seeds will not lose its dark color when cooked, so cooks should take this into consideration when deciding which version of grains to include in their food. It could be a high contrast to other less colorful food on the plate or it could overshadow other vibrant colors.
Which grains are best for cooking?
Each version of quinoa is delectable in its own right and the option which one to cook with really depends on what is going to be cooked. The color and how it will look within the meal being prepared is a great point to consider. Will a red or black color look appetizing in the meal you are planning or would a more neutral white be more appealing? It is true that red seeds has one more gram of protein than white seeds, but any seeds still contains a high level of protein. White quinoa would be best for baking and can be ground down into a flour to use as a gluten-free option. The choice is really up to the person preparing the food and their personal preference.
Quinoa nutrition facts
Quinoa is a health powerhouse. It contains complete protein, anti-oxidants and fiber. For every cup of quinoa consumed, the consumer receives 8 grams of protein and only 3.4 grams of fat. This one cup of seeds only contains 222 calories and is free of any cholesterol. It also provides the body with Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Omega-3 fatty acids, Phosphorous, Potassium, Selenium and Zinc. After researching the nutritional benefits, it can provide more benefits than other grains or seeds. It can make a person healthier and improve someone’s physical condition. Eating quinoa can also lower cholesterol! There are endless health benefits people enjoy if grains are cooked correctly!
Rinsing quinoa is essential for delicious dish. There are some opinions that say rinsing seeds are not necessary. It would be beneficial to try it both ways and see if the consumers can taste a difference. The reason to rinse seeds are because the rinsing process takes off the outer coating from the seed of quinoa. The outer coating can make quinoa taste bitter or even soapy. It is not a long process. Pour the seeds in a fine mesh sieve and run water over it for 5-10 minutes. It helps to agitate the quinoa slightly with your hand while rinsing it to make sure all of the seeds are rinsed thoroughly.
How to cook quinoa recipes
There are hundreds of quinoa recipes available on the internet. There are recipes that use quinoa in the main dishes, mix it with meat, vegetarian meals, use it in salad, breakfast recipes, etc. The options are abundant! Here is one recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that people have really enjoyed. It’s best to start with a tried and true recipe so you do not have a bad taste on dishes from South America, literally. This is a herbed quinoa recipe.
2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups seeds of quinoa
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the seeds before beginning! Add the first three ingredients (chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa) to a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. This should take about 12 to 15 minutes.
You will want to create the dressing while the seeds are cooking. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, and seasonings. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
When the seeds has finished cooking, pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until the mixture is evenly coated. Transfer a meal to a serving dish and season again with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
See more about quinoa salad recipes.
How to cook quinoa on the stove top
For every cup of seeds, you will need to add 2 cups of liquid. You can use water or chicken/vegetable broth for more flavor. Rinse the seeds before adding it to the pan. It will need to cook in the liquid until all of the liquid is absorbed. This should take approximately 15-20 minutes. It should have a bite to it, but not be audibly crunchy. After the liquid has been absorbed, take cooked the seeds off the heat and let it stand for at least 5 minutes. Salt to taste if needed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and enjoy!
How to cook quinoa in a rice cooker
It can also be prepared in a rice cooker for a less hands-on approach. The ratio for quinoa to liquid in a rice cooker is the same as the stove-top version. Rinse the seeds before adding it to the rice cooker. To prepare 1 cup of seeds, you will need to add 2 cups of liquid. Turn the rice cooker on and wait until the timer pops up! You can also add some salt after tasting.
How to cook quinoa in the oven
There are many recipes available that involve baking the quinoa with other ingredients. In fact, this is an easy way to create a delicious entree for a dinner party or for a family. It involves the same ratio of seeds to liquid as the other cooking methods. However, baked quinoa also includes other ingredients for more variety. One recipe includes onions and jalapeños and is baked for approximately 20 minutes at 350 °F (177 °C) .
How to cook quinoa – video
Most common mistakes when making quinoa
- Skipping the rinse
- Do not cook long enough
- Cooking too long
- Not letting it rest
Skipping the rinse step in the process of cooking can cause the seeds to taste bitter which is unappetizing for a lot of people. If the person eating seeds of goosefoot is expecting something akin to rice and gets a mouthful of bitterness, it ends the journey with product! If it is not cooked long enough it has a crunch to it and not a crunch that people enjoy. It should have a texture and a bite to it, but not so crunchy it sounds like a peanut. At the same time, cooking quinoa too much makes it mushy like porridge. There is a perfect time frame for quinoa so it has the right texture to it. Usually that is around 15-20 minutes. Any more or less may ruin the make-up of the seeds. The last mistake people frequently make is eating directly after it finishes cooking. Sometimes you may need to drain out extra liquid. If the seeds are fluffed up and not too crunchy, but still has liquid it is important to drain it and then return it to the pot to rest. If you allow the seeds to rest it ensures the seeds does not get mushy or clumpy.
How healthy is quinoa?
Besides kale, seeds are probably the most health packed food you can consume. It contains so many minerals that people do not naturally eat on a daily basis. It can benefit your body in ways that most foods are unable to offer.
Health benefits of consuming quinoa
The nutritional information could stand on its own for the reasons why people should eat grains of goosefoot. However great the vitamins are, they do not need to stand on their own because the benefits of quinoa go way beyond just reaching proper protein and fiber for the body.
It also contains many antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your skin from illnesses by boosting your immune system. They also protect your skin from the Vitamin E it possesses. The antioxidants can help boost memory, protect the heart, assist eyes and can even help stabilize mood disorders.
It is an excellent option for people with Celiac’s disease or others who are gluten intolerant. It can be used as an alternative to traditional flour. Using flour adds all of the added benefits of eating quinoa in baked goods instead of just in an entree!
It is Good for Diabetics
Quinoa does not raise your blood sugar quickly and can actually reduce your blood sugar. It can help control your appetite and satisfies hunger. It can also help with weight loss if eaten in correct serving sizes.
Good for Weight Loss or Weight Maintenance
Because of the high fiber and protein content in quinoa, it is an excellent food for weight loss. It needs to be eaten in correct proportions and not over indulged, but that could apply to any healthy option. The protein contained in the seeds can accelerate metabolism and also reduce your appetite. Fiber helps you to feel more full so you know when to stop eating.
If you do not desire to lose weight, but want to maintain your current state of nutrition adding in goosefoot can be very helpful. It not only will help you receive the health benefits but it could also take the place of something less desirable in terms of nutrition.
How to store
Storing foods to last the longest is important. No one wants to be wasteful and have to keep throwing out food that was not used. Seeds is best stored out of direct sunlight, in temperatures lower than 70 degrees and in airtight container. It has a long shelf life and does not need to be stored in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 8 years in an airtight container in the cabinet.
Interesting facts about quinoa
The continent that grows the most goosefoot plant is South America. Peru and Bolivia specifically grow the most amount of goosefoot seeds, but North America has also begun to get in on the goosefoot craze. It comes from the goosefoot plant and it can be harvested when the seed is hard. It is considered hard when a fingernail cannot make a dent in the seed. The seed is usually harvested after the leaves fall off the plant and leave the seed exposed. Once it is harvested, it typically goes through a process of rinsing to remove the outer cover of the seed, which is the bitter part. It is then dried and prepared to market.
Can I grow quinoa myself?
Yes, you can grow it at home in your own garden. It thrives in milder climates and does not do well in climates that are over 90 degrees fahrenheit. It does require full sun. Depending on the region you live in, spring or early summer is usually the perfect time to plant it. As long as the soil remains moist, the plant does not need to be watered until it starts to grow leaves. It is easily harvested by hand, but gloves are suggested for protection. After harvesting the seeds, it needs to be dried all the way before storing it.
Top 5 reasons you should try to taste
1. The abundant health benefits
2. Weight loss or weight maintenance
3. Variety- It can be used in the same way as rice and pasta in most circumstances with more added benefits than you can get from either of the other options.
4. It is easy! You can use it as an addition to any meal as a healthy side dish.
5. To try something new!
It is delicious, easy and extremely healthy. It is good for adults, kids and even babies! Venture out and try something new and adventurous when you prepare your next meal or go out to eat.