Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a member of the goosefoot family and is grown in the altiplano of the Andes in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, and some in Chile and Argentina. It has historically been the staple food of the Andes. Quinoa is a cute, light, curly grain that cooks up in approximately 20-25 minutes. It is rather nutty in flavor but is delicious in place of rice in many dishes. Quinoa is one of the most nutritious grains due to its high lysine and protein content. It is gluten-free, providing another grain choice for the gluten intolerant. It can effectively boost milk supply for nursing mothers as well. It is one of the most expensive grains, but due to its valuable nutrition we make an effort to include it in our diet.
According to Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, “Quinoa contains 16-20 perfect protein and is high in cystine, lysine and methionine – amino acids that tend to be low in other grains. It contains iron, calcium and phosphorus, B vitamins and vitamin E, and is relatively high in fat. Like all grains, quinoa contains antinutrients and therefore requires a long soaking as part of the preparation process.” (To learn more about the benefits of soaking, visit here.)
Also, a substance on the surface of quinoa called saponins has a bitter taste and must be rinsed away. Rinse thoroughly for one minute in a strainer, soak overnight in water, drain and rinse again for another minute before use.
Creamy Quinoa is our favorite means of eating quinoa. It is a hearty breakfast porridge to boost your energy for the day!
1 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cup water (for cooking)
Additional water (for soaking)
1 Tbsp of an acid medium (for soaking) -kefir, whey, yogurt, lemon juice, etc.
Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a strainer and then cover entirely with water inside a bowl. Mix in your acid medium. Soak overnight. I usually place the strainer of rinsed quinoa into a larger bowl filled with enough water to cover (as pictured). This allows me to easily rinse the grain again in the morning.
In the morning, drain and rinse thoroughly again. Blend 1/3 cup of the quinoa with 1/3 cup water in a blender for 1 minute, until smooth. Remove from blender and combine with remaining quinoa with the remaining 1 cup of water. (If you prefer a completely creamy texture, as we do, blend all the quinoa and water together. Leaving some grains in their whole form will give you more of a crunchy texture.) Add toppings as desired. We love raisins and chopped apples to ours. Bring to a boil and turn on low and simmer for 20 minutes. Top with a little honey and milk and enjoy!
Another favorite combo is blueberries and peanut butter added to the quinoa after it has completed cooking.
Here are a few other ideas for using quinoa:
Quinoa & Black Beans - a hearty side dish!
For any casserole or dish, quinoa is an easy substitute for rice or a lovely addition to increase this nutritious grain in your diet.
What are your favorite ways to use quinoa?