Friday, November 11, 2011

What the heck is quinoa? And how does one even say it?

Seems some of us shy away from quinoa, because we don't even know how to pronounce the word, none less create something edible with it.  Here, I will answer these and other questions about this not so exotic and strange food and hope to convince you to try it.

Quinoa is actually pronounced keen-wa.  It is sometimes put in the grain category, but it's really a seed, usually smaller than the size of a sesame seed.  However, it can be used like a grain or mixed in with a favorite grain such as rice or barley.  The Incas are said to have called quinoa the mother of all grains.

Why?  Because it is so nutritious.  It is high in protein and that protein is higher in quality than what grains and cereals typically contain.  It is a balanced protein, so it can be used as a complete protein by vegetarians and vegans.  It also contains a great deal of lysine which is an amino acid not usually found in such high quantities in vegetarian sources.  It is a good source of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, and zinc.  It also has a hefty dose of iron and fiber.  What's not to like about that list!?

So, what should you do with it?  Quinoa is cooked by boiling it like rice or oatmeal.  You can buy quinoa flours for baking as well.  Depending on the type you buy (there are red quinoas and others, so experiment with them for taste and texture - red is my favorite), it takes about 15-20 min. to prepare.  I typically just throw quinoa and some extra water in with a batch of rice and cook them together.  You can also just use it in place of rice, couscous or any other grain.  Whatever you plan to use it with, add to the water.  For example, to use with a Mexican dish, I add cumin and oregano amongst other spices.  For breakfast, I add cinnamon and vanilla to the water.  It's very versatile and your own creativity will be the judge of how far you can incorporate this nutritional super seed into your diet!

I am not going to spend anymore time trying to tell you all the ways to use quinoa.  I hope I have convinced you to do so, but there is a website dedicated solely to this subject and I now direct you to it!

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