Quinoa is still relatively new on the food scene but has been gaining more attention by foodies and nutritional buffs. Revered sacred to the Incas as the “mother grain”, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is power packed and a wonderful staple to introduce to your diet.
What makes this “mother grain” so spectacular, you may ask? Well, to clarify, it actually is not a grain but a seed that is harvested primarily in South America. What makes this “mother seed” one to write home about is its high levels of protein (12-18%), calcium, iron, vitamin E and several B vitamins. It is also a great source of fiber. So on top of all the health benefits, it taste amazing in a variety of dishes and desserts from casseroles and soups to cookies and cereals.
Quinoa is a perfect substitution for my not-so-meaty eaters due to its almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids that your body needs in order to develop and repair tissue. Plus it is considered a complete protein without the needing to pair any legumes or beans with it (this is a common practice amongst vegetarians with rice and other grains).
So how does one use quinoa? Most people always get a little squirmy when trying something new and foreign to them. I have had people laugh at me saying that quinoa looks a lot like bird seed. Well, what can I say, it does! However, it can take on the form of many different cooking and baking products that aren’t so great for your Bountiful Body!
The easiest way to use quinoa is by cooking it much like rice. You always want to rinse your grains before cooking them to wash off any residue or film (yes even your organic grains). You can toast the seeds before cooking. This gives them a great nutty flavor. You don’t need to do this step but I definitely recommend trying it.
To toast the seeds, put them in a pot and turn the burner on low. The grains will begin to pop (make sure to not to walk away because they can quickly burn). You should use a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio when cooking. Add the water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and let the quinoa stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let it cool.
From that point you can do a number of different things!
- add chopped carrots, celery, green onion, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, olive oil and garlic powder for a flavorful dish
- top with cinnamon, nutmeg, almond milk, coconut oil/butter, raisins and walnuts for a warm and satisfying breakfast
- add a 1/2 cup on top of any fresh green salad you usually make (this is quick and easy way to up the protein without having to add meat)
- add cooked corn, black beans, green onions, diced tomatoes, garlic powder, cumin and olive oil to create an amazing filling for any tortilla or wrap
- eat on the side of over easy/poached eggs and greens
You can store the cooked quinoa in the refrigerator and use it it throughout the whole week for easy on the go meals or to pump up your leftovers.
Some other forms of quinoa that are amazing replacements for the not-so-healthy family favorites are flour, bread, crackers, cookies, pasta and cereal. One of my favorites are quinoa waffles from a company called Chamber Creek Kitchen. They also make millet and buckwheat waffles too, all of which are gluten free. You can get them at Slow Pokes Local Foods. I eat mine slathered in butter/coconut butter, cinnamon and toasted coconut flakes. Remember, when buying a pre made quinoa product (or any product for that matter), still look at the ingredients to ensure that they all check out and aren’t hidden with sugar and hydrogenated oils.
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