Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wa") is a grain-like seed that has recently gained popularity for its unique super food qualities.
Originally found in ancient Peru, this nutty seed is packed with protein and nutrients making it a great choice for vegetarians and vegans as well as individuals following a gluten-free diet. It looks similar to couscous, however has a nuttier and more complex flavor.
Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids, including lysine. Many grains lack lysine, making quinoa an excellent addition to the diet. It is also rich in iron, vitamin E, potassium, fiber and magnesium.
How do you cook quinoa?
Quinoa is a great substitute for other grains in the diet. While there are hundreds of varieties, the three main ones that you will see on your supermarket shelves are white, red and black quinoa. These varieties are widely available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins.
A few tips for cooking quinoa
Make sure to wash the seeds before cooking. In its natural state, quinoa has a coating of bitter tasting saponins, which are mildly toxic. Some packaged quinoa has already been rinsed for convenience, however it’s best to run cold water over the quinoa and wash thoroughly using a fine strainer or cheesecloth.
To cook, add one part quinoa to two parts liquid in a saucepan. Use low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock as a cooking medium for added flavor.
After mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover. It will usually take 15 minutes for the quinoa to completely cook. As an alternative, try using a rice cooker.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Do no remove the cover and stir! Let the quinoa do its thing. Once fully cooked, fluff with a fork and serve.
The best ways to serve quinoa
Dry roasting in a pan or oven before cooking will add a nice toasted flavor to the quinoa. Spice up your quinoa by adding fresh herbs —no added salt necessary!
You can also:
- Combine with yogurt, nuts and fresh fruit for a power-packed breakfast
- Add to soups for additional protein and texture
- Used in place of rice in dishes such as in a stir-fry with vegetables and salmon
- Make quinoa burgers as a healthy vegetarian main course
- Add to salads for a protein boost
- Use ground quinoa flour for gluten-free breads