Ever felt afraid of cooking with unfamiliar ingredients, like quinoa? Well fear no more because we’re diving into the health and nutrition benefits of this versatile grain, and showing you several cooking techniques and recipes so it can become a healthy staple in your kitchen in no time.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a small, whole grain substitute that’s completely gluten-free. It takes on a rice-like texture when cooked and comes in a variety of colors – including red, gray, green and white – depending on where it’s grown. It’s been speculated that quinoa has been around for nearly 5,000 years and was first cultivated in the Andes throughout Peru, Bolivia and Chile. And although it’s commonly thought of as a grain, the individual beads are actually the plant’s tiny seeds.
Quinoa is extremely healthy. It’s low in sodium and high in calcium, and a high-quality protein containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s also rich in phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc. And it’s widely praised as a great option for those trying to consume less meat without missing out on protein.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains roughly 220 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein.
Traditionally, quinoa is prepared much like couscous or rice. Simply combine 1 cup of the pre-rinsed grain with 1.25 cups liquid like water or chicken or veggie broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low heat, cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered for an additional 5 minutes. Then, fluff and serve.
Other serving options include adding fruit, nuts and honey for a sweet breakfast bowl. Or combining it with chopped veggies, olive oil and feta cheese for a savory lunch or dinner. You can also add cooked quinoa to stir fries, salads, and countless other dishes like the ones listed below.
Give quinoa a try! It’s one of the healthiest foods you’re probably missing out on.
March 17th, 2012