Quinoa has been part of the healthy lunch options at several catered events I have attended lately. The foods tasted very good and made me to want to find out more about it – what are the benefits of eating it, how to cook it, how long it takes to prepare?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is considered a whole grain because of its nutrient benefits, and how it is cooked and prepared. However, it is actually a seed and a relative to the leafy vegetables beets, spinach, and Swiss chard. It was originally grown in the Andes Mountains of South America by the Incas over 5,000 years ago. Quinoa is a good source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin E. In addition it is known as a complete protein. Research has shown that the high fiber content of quinoa will make you feel full longer, which may aid in weight loss. High fiber foods are also shown to aid in digestion, may lower blood cholesterol, and reduce the risks of certain cancers. One of the best things about quinoa is that it is gluten free, which makes it a great food for those with celiac disease.
Quinoa is covered in a naturally occurring pesticide called saponin. Saponin gives it a bitter taste which discourages bugs from eating it. By rinsing the quinoa, you will remove this bitter taste. Start by placing the seeds in a fine mesh strainer, because it is small it will go through something with larger holes. Put the strainer in a bowl of water and gently rub the seeds for a few seconds, rinse and drain. Check the label, as some varieties of quinoa come pre-rinsed; however, not all. After rinsing, cook 1 cup of seeds with 2 cups of water. One cup of seeds will yield 3 to 3 ½ cups of cooked quinoa. Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking rice. It will be done in 15 to 20 minutes. The cooked seeds can be used in everything from salads, main dish casseroles, soups or chowders, dessert foods like puddings, or hot breakfast cereals. Use the flour from quinoa to make gluten free cookies. Here is a link to a few quinoa recipes for you to try http://go.osu.edu/quinoa.
Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County/Ohio Valley ERRA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewers: Cindy Shuster, Kathryn Green, Linnette Goard, and Jennifer Lindimore, Ohio State University Extension.
Whole Grains Council, http://wholegrainscouncil.org/.
Chow Line, Ohio State University Extension, http://extension.osu.edu/news-releases/resources/chow-line/.
Utah State University, Food $ENSE, Quinoa, https://extension.usu.edu/fsne/files/uploads/2012%20Food%20Basics%20Lessons/Grains/F$GrainsQuinoaHandout.pdf.