One of my absolute favorite foods to have on hand is Quinoa (KEEN-wah). Not just because it’s fun to say, but because it is incredibly versatile AND has the highest nutritional profile of all grains. It even cooks the fastest of all grains, letting me make healthy meals in no time at all.
Quinoa is an extremely high energy grain and has been grown and consumed for approximately 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes in South America. The Incas were able to run such long distances at such a high altitude because of this powerful grain. It could be considered a “Super Food”.
Beneficial Characteristics of Quinoa
- Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
- Has a protein content equal to milk
- High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E
- Easy to digest
- Ideal food for high endurance sports and work activities
- Strengthens the kidneys, heart, and lungs
Uses for Quinoa
When quinoa is cooked, the outer germ surrounding the seed breaks open to form a crunchy coil, while the inner grain becomes soft and translucent. This double texture makes it delicious, versatile, and fun to eat. To save time, cook a lot of quinoa at once, and eat it as leftovers. Quinoa can be reheated with a splash of soy or nut milk for breakfast porridge; you can add dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad, or add chopped, cooked, root vegetables for a warming side dish. Store dry, uncooked quinoa in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed glass jar for up to one year.
Preparation of Quinoa
Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Saponin, when removed from quinoa, produces a soapy solution in water. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use. Place quinoa in a grain strainer and rinse thoroughly with water.
Cooking Quinoa – the Basic Recipe
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water or broth
- seasonings to taste
Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa with cool water until the water runs clear. Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook covered for 12-15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. Be careful not to overcook and make it mushy. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes covered; fluff with a fork. Season as you like.
*For a delicious toasted flavor, dry roast for 5 minutes in saucepan before adding liquid.
*Cook in vegetable broth or vegetarian not-chicken seasoning broth instead of water for a richer flavor.
Try this delicious quinoa salad for lunch at home, or bring it to a work or family potluck.
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- ⅓ cup fresh lime or lemon juice (or more to taste)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- ⅔ cup green onions, chopped small
- 1 cup cucumber, chopped small
- 1 cup baby heirloom tomatoes, diced (use red, orange and yellow for variety)
- ⅓ cup frozen or fresh peas
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Place cooled, cooked quinoa in a large bowl.
- Add all ingredients to bowl with quinoa and toss well to combine.
- Add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil if needed.
- Taste, adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Great cold or at room temperature.
Get more delicious meat and dairy free recipes in WHY VEGAN IS THE NEW BLACK. For more information or to order your copy, click the graphic below.
Category: Light Meals