Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’) is a gluten-free seed that has been grown in South America for hundreds of years. This slightly nutty and crunchy grain-alternative has twice the protein content of brown rice and is rich in several vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In fact, quinoa is considered a full protein source. This means that all of the very important essential amino acids, the building blocks of our body, are present. Quinoa also contains important phytonutrients. These nutrients unique to plants act like little soldiers fighting against inflammation and disease. Quinoa is also considered one of the most allergy safe carbohydrate sources because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Not only is quinoa extremely nutritious, it is versatile, easy to make, and absolutely delicious! The only preparation required for cooking quinoa is possibly pre-washing the seeds to remove a bitter coating known as saponin. Some brands even come pre-washed for your convenience. The cooking process is very similar to cooking rice. Simply add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a pot and bring to a steady boil, cover, and remove from the heat once all the water is gone (only about 10-15 minutes). You can also substitute water for a savory broth of your choice to add even more flavor. Quinoa can be enjoyed simply plain, with a variety of spices, or substituted for pasta and rice in your favorite recipes.
Now that we have convinced you to try this delicious and nutritious new super food, take a gander at the two different types of quinoa you can find at your local foods store. Quinoa can be white or red (or even a mix of the two). White quinoa has a milder flavor and slightly creamy texture while red quinoa has a more distinct nutty flavor and a crunchier texture. One type may suite your recipes or taste buds more than the other.
Quinoa can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With quinoa, the possibilities are endless! Here are some suggestions to help get your culinary creative juices flowing.
Breakfast: Quinoa “oatmeal” cooked with vanilla almond milk (in place of water), cinnamon, and nutmeg
Lunch: Mediterranean quinoa salad with extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese
Dinner: Vegetarian chili with quinoa