Quinoa

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Quinoa can come in white or red.

Quinoa Consists of Complete Protein, Excellent for Vegans and Vegetarians

Quinoa is a wonderful low-carb alternative to rice, pasta, or potatoes. It contains all nine essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) and has more protein than rice, pasta, or potatoes. Also, it tastes excellent. The texture of quinoa is quite delightful. The little seeds can become fluffy when cooked, but if you use less water, it retains a slight firmness. You can substitute quinoa for rice in many recipes, and there are so many culinary possibilities with this wonderful little seed.

Quinoa is Rich in Protein and Gluten-Free

quinoa

The chenopodium quinoa plant.

Quinoa, or chenopodium quinoa, emerged from the mountainous Andean areas of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Columbia. Nowadays, quinoa can be grown outside of South America, such as in the Colorado Rockies, and in Saskatoon. The seeds of the chenopodium quinoa plant are mainly harvested. The leaves of this plant are also edible, although only in limited amounts due to high levels of oxalic acid present in the stems and leaves of the plant. As it is not a grass like wheat or rice is, quinoa is considered a pseudo-cereal. It is related to amaranth, and when compared, the seeds look somewhat similar, though amaranth seeds are smaller. Both quinoa and amaranth are gluten-free, and suitable for those on gluten-free diets.

The presence of a natural saponin coating causes the quinoa seeds to be bitter and unappetizing to birds. This protective coating must be washed off before the quinoa is used. The quinoa that you buy may come pre-washed. To wash quinoa, simply wash it like you would wash rice, taking care not to lose any quinoa in the process. Change the water after washes, and wash the quinoa until the water is clear. You can use a mesh strainer for this process.

Quinoa can be steamed like rice. It can also be toasted, or sprouted and eaten as sprouts.

How to Steam Quinoa

Use a ratio of 1 cup of quinoa to 1 and a half cup of liquid. If you want your quinoa to be more moist, then use a ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups of liquid. Put your quinoa in a saucepan, and add the water (or broth). Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn down the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let the saucepan sit for 5 minutes, covered.

All the liquid should be absorbed. The quinoa is ready to eat.

Fried Quinoa

Instead of frying rice, you can fry quinoa. Here is a recipe that I use. Like fried rice, it is best to use quinoa that has been stored overnight after cooking. You can double the recipe for a larger serving.

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 teaspoon sesame oil

canola oil or sunflower oil  (peanut oil will work too)

half an onion, chopped

about 4 green onions/scallions, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped (feel free to add more garlic if you like)

1 teaspoon ginger powder (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly minced ginger)

  1. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce and sesame oil.
  2. In a large pan, heat about half a tablespoon of oil and saute the onions, garlic, and ginger (if fresh), for a few minutes. Add another half a tablespoon of oil. Put in the quinoa and let fry with the other ingredients for several minutes. If using ginger powder, add to the mixture.
  3. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil combo to the quinoa, and stir on the pan to mix well. Add a dash of black or white pepper if desired.