Friday, January 24, 2014

How to Cook Quinoa

Raw Quinoa

Quinoa is an ancient gluten free grain that looks like small off-white/light yellow pebbles. They come in a variety of colors, however, the off-white/light yellow colored grain is most often seen in the US. It grows in grass-like stalks with clusters of the seeds toward the top of the plant.

Quinoa naturally contains a highly bitter compound known as saponins. These compounds are thought to protect the grains from insects and birds completely decimating the crop. This compound can also cause humans to have slight dietary and respiratory side effects if exposed to it. To prevent this, the compound is most often removed during manufacturing. If it is not removed, thoroughly rinsing the product will help to eliminate it.

Quinoa is also known for its incredible nutrition density. It has an incredibly high protein content, which makes it very desirable as a protein substitute as well.

This amazing grain is cooked almost exactly like rice. It is rinsed, brought to a simmer, covered, then simmers and steams simultaneously to produce a fluffy grain.

One of the unique and helpful attributes to the quinoa grain is its crescent-shaped thread that protrudes from the outside of each grain when fully cooked. If this grain does not protrude, the grain is not fully cooked and must be returned to the heat source. It is a quick and easy way of telling when it is ready to eat.

Quinoa Grains

  1. Thoroughly rinse and drain quinoa three times with cold running water.
  2. Use the ratio of 2:1 (liquid to quinoa). The liquid can be water or stock/broth.
  3. Use 1 Tbsp. oil in the pot to prevent sticking (optional).
  4. Bring the water to a boil first, reduce heat to a simmer, then cover the pot.
  5. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  6. Check for the crescent-shaped threads.
  7. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork.
  8. Enjoy!
That's it! It is really just that easy! You can fold some fresh, raw vegetables in it (such as bell peppers or cucumber), you can fold cheese and broccoli in it and bake it in muffin tins, or you can enjoy it plain. Wherever you use rice, quinoa may be substituted (even in stir fry dishes!). So give this a try....I am sure you will be a convert too!

Nutrition Facts (1 cup cooked - without oil):
Calories: 222
Total Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 13mg
Carbohydrates: 39g
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 8g