Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is a nutritional powerhouse with ancient origins. It was originally cultivated by the Incas more than 5,000 years ago; they referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a great source of protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is also high in magnesium, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and zinc.
While quinoa is widely considered a grain, it’s actually the seed of a plant called Chenopodium or Goosefoot, related to chard and spinach. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and has a similar effect as other whole grains in helping to stabilize blood sugar.
It has a waxy protective coating called saponin which can leave a bitter taste. For best results, rinse or soak quinoa before you cook it. When cooked, it has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. Try it in soups, salads, as a breakfast porridge or as its own side dish.
Here’s a basic recipe for cooking Quinoa:
- 2 cups Quinoa
- Water for soaking
- 4 cups water or vegetable broth or chicken stock
- Put quinoa in a bowl, cover with water, and stir
- Soak for 10 minutes, then rinse.
- Place quinoa in a pan and add 4 cups water, broth, or stock.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cover and reduce heat.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
- You'll know the quinoa is ready when the seeds turn transparent and the spiral-like germ has separated.
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