Friday, March 20, 2009

Quinoa - A Super Food!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) refers to the seed of the Chenopodium or “Goosefoot” plant. It is native to the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru and was a staple food of both the Aztecs and the Incas.

Quinoa is technically not a grain, but is used as a grain and substituted for grains because of its cooking characteristics. Quinoa is now available in many forms such as pasta, cereal, flour and even polenta.

photo courtesy of Ancient Quinoa Harvest -

Why is Quinoa considered a super food?
Quinoa is a considered a super food because it contains more protein than any other grain. The protein in quinoa is complete and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is especially high in lysine, methionine and cystine. Quinoa is rich in iron, calcium, riboflavin, potassium, B6, niacin and thiamin. It’s also a good source of manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and folate. Another great reason to eat quinoa is that it’s high in dietary fiber.

Quinoa is a gluten-free whole grain food, so people who are on a celiac diet can safely use it. The American Celiac Sprue Association lists quinoa as a good choice for a gluten free diet. Additionally, quinoa is the perfect food for vegetarians and vegans because of its high protein content!

1/4 cup of cooked Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa Grain has 170 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 2 mg of sodium and 7 grams of protein.

Cooking Method:
Quinoa kernels have a waxy protective coating called saponin which leaves a bitter taste. Quinoa should be rinsed under running water before cooking to remove the saponin. Many manufacturers now rinse quinoa before packaging, but it still should be rinsed just in case there is some saponin remaining. Quinoa expands up to 4 times its volume when cooked and has a mild, nutty and earthy flavor. It tends to takes on the flavors of the food it's cooked or served with.

To cook, use two parts liquid to one part quinoa. Bring the quinoa to a boil using a medium saucepan, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the grains are translucent and the germ has spiraled out from each grain. It has a crunchy texture when cooked for about 10 minutes and a soft and chewy texture when cooked for about 15 minutes. Quinoa tastes great in soups, stews, casseroles, stir fries and even cold in salads.


Unknown said...

I'm going to have to try this again, the first time I didn't care for it but I could have done something wrong.

magsy said...

I have a packet of Quinoa in my cupboard but was put off of using it because of other people saying it wasn't very good, maybe I will give it a try after reading your blog.

Dina said...

I didn't like it the first time I tried it either. It was too bland for me.

Quinoa really needs to be mixed with flavorful ingredients. It will take on the flavor of the other food and spices.

Opus #6 said...

My MIL introdiced me to Quinoa. It tastes good.

Anonymous said...

I like hearing about new foods!

Anonymous said...

I think I might try this though if there is a way to screw it up I'll probably do it!

Anonymous said...

This was good information & thank you for telling me how to pronounce quinoa.

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follow me into the depths said...

Mix it with raw honey for flavor and a double super food punch. I have this for breakfast each morning and I have what seems to be an endless amount of energy.

Anonymous said...

I tried Quinoa today and it was really good. I wanted to see how it would taste before adding anything to it to gauge how it compared to brown rice, and it was very tastey! I can't wait to try an actual recipe with it. I also love the texture, but then again, I love tapioca, and the texture turns some people off. Try it, you'll like it! ; )

Cheryl said...

I tried quinoa for the first time the other night. It was surprisingly not bad. I had my doubts at first...i've always been a white rice cooker.

The box it came in had a fabulous recipe on it. Garlic chicken with quinoa stir fry. It recommended cooking the quinoa in chicken broth instead of water. Quinoa will absorb any flavors cooked with it (according to the box).

It was not too bad. Different, but not bad.

Anonymous said...

I believe the 170 calories is for DRY! Cooked is harder to find?

Renate said...

I love to mix quinoa up with chopped veggies, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, carrots, cilatro a bit of garlic, a dash of olive oil and apple cider vinegar - makes the best salad! I can live off this stuff all summer!