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Great Grain, Funny Name

By Fiona Breslin

Quick-cooking quinoa (say KEEN-wah) is far easier to love than to pronounce. The grain-like crop, native to the Andes Mountains of South America, packs an impressive amount of nutrition and flavor into its tiny seed, and was reputedly served to Inca warriors to boost their stamina.

Unlike many whole grains, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids — those we can’t synthesize in our bodies and need to get from food. These include lysine, helpful for sustaining energy and rebuilding body tissues during treatment. One cooked cup of quinoa contains 21% of the daily-recommended value of fiber, eight grams of protein,  and is gentle on the digestive system. The naturally gluten-free seed also provides respectable helpings of manganese, folate, and vitamin B6 among others.

Cooked quinoa confers a nutty flavor and fluffy texture not unlike brown rice, though it provides even more protein. Available in white, red, and black varieties, quinoa can be served in place of rice or used as a base to create original, healthful dishes. Its versatility and easy preparation make it good to keep on hand in the kitchen.

Ann’s Tips

Quinoa makes a great substitute for rice and pasta as a healthy carbohydrate with a unique taste. Wash quinoa thoroughly before boiling to remove any bitter, natural saponins that may remain on the grain. When cooked, quinoa sprouts its slender germ, which stretches in a delicate spiral around the seed’s body and indicates readiness. Cooked quinoa can be stored in the fridge for three days.

Recipe Tips

Serve quinoa as a dinner base with legumes and seasonal veggies, as in our Quinoa with Roasted Ratatouille, or as a breakfast option similar to oatmeal with strained yogurt and your favorite fruits and nuts as toppings. Quinoa can also be used for soup bases, stews, and cold in salad such as tabbouleh.



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