We live near Boulder, CO where “hippies go to die.” But it is also a wonderful place to discover natural and organic foods that is served in many of the local restaurants. Quinoa has become one of my new favorite foods. It is very tasty, having a wonderful, nutty crunch. It is high in protein, vitamins, and amino acids, making it a complete protein. Because of the high protein content, it’s economical and saves money since it satisfies your appetite, unlike rice or other grains. You can easily serve a nutritious high protein meal without the need to purchase meat. Therefore, it’s perfect for vegetarians who need to add protein to their diet.
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient grain that has been cultivated in South America for over 5000 years. Yet not many of us know about it in the United States. The ancient Incas called it the “mother grain” and with good reason. Technically, quinoa is not a grain at all, but is the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant. But it is used like a grain and served in dishes that call for grains like rice.
Karen Railey, author of the popular eBook, How to Improve Fading Memory and Thinking Skills with Nutrition writes this about Quinoa:
“Quinoa has a fluffy consistency and a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor. The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa’s protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a child’s protein needs for one day. The 6-7% fat of quinoa is relatively high when compared to other grains, but it boasts a low sodium content and also provides valuable starch and fiber. Quinoa also contains albumen, a protein that is found in egg whites, blood serum, and many plant and animal tissues. The seeds are gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative grain for those with gluten sensitivity. Quinoa would be a worthy addition to anyone’s diet, supplying variety as well as good nutrition.”
Quinoa is easy to cook, and is very much like cooking rice. It’s best to rinse quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter outer coating; this has already been done before packaging but many suggest to rinse again. Uncooked quinoa can be added to soups and stews to raise the protein content and add flavor.
Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad with Toasted Almonds
1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed in cold water 3 times 6 cups water 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt ½ cup scallion greens, washed and sliced into thin rounds ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and roughly chopped Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about 1 cup) ½ cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
In a large pot, add the 1/2 salt to the 6 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, and cook until tender (about 8 minutes). Using a sieve, drain well. Cool to room temperature, and set aside in refrigerator. Mix the parsley, scallion greens, pomegranate seeds, olive oil, red wine vinegar and sugar in a bowl.
Add the quinoa, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. To serve, top with the toasted almonds.
Number of Servings: 8
For more quinoa recipes, visit Best Quinoa Recipes.