Thursday, April 28, 2011

All about quinoa

We talk a lot about longer-term food storage items like wheat, beans, rice, and oats, but another food to consider for your food storage might be quinoa.  What's quinoa, you ask? (okay, maybe everyone already knows except for me!) Here are the facts:

What is it?  I don't know about you, but I didn't grow up eating quinoa, and in fact I hadn't even heard of it until about a year ago.  Pronounced "KEEN-wah" (or "kee-NO-wah"), it's often treated as a grain (because of how we cook it), but it's actually in the same family as spinach and Swiss chard.

Nutrition. Quinoa is a great choice for food storage (and everyday cooking in general) because it has great nutritional value.  Quinoa has a similar nutritional value to brown rice: it is a carb that is high in protein (higher than brown rice), and is actually a complete protein source (it has a "balanced set of of essential amino acids for humans", according to wikipedia.). Quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber, and phosphorus, and is also high in magnesium and iron.  Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

How do you prepare it?  Quinoa is a great alternative to rice and couscous - it is fluffy and light when cooked, and has a mild, nutty flavor.  In fact, most people cook quinoa just like they cook rice - boil 2 cups of water for each cup of grains.  You can even use your rice cooker. Quinoa has a slight bite to it when ready (similar to al dente pasta).  You can also season it any way you wish - adding vegetables, chicken stock, etc.  You can also make quinoa for breakfast, seasoning it as you would season oatmeal.  Quinoa flour can be used in gluten-free baking.

As you can see, quinoa is extremely versatile.  The only downside is that it can be quite pricey (try buying it in bulk if you can - I'm pretty sure "Whole Foods" has some in their bulk section).  

What's your favorite way to fix quinoa? Any recommendations/suggestions?

(thanks to wikipedia for providing most of the information in this post!) :)


ejemory said...

Quinoa needs to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking to remove the outer coating (I forget what it's called, but it's bitter). I love to cook it with chicken broth and carmelized veggies. Yum!

Lynn said...

That's what I was going to ask too.....I've heard about it being bitter. And then some have told me there is Quinoa that you buy already prepared and rinsed. How do I know the difference?

Hannah said...

Thanks for the questions about it needing to be rinsed!

From what I gathered in my reading, most pre-packaged quinoa is ready to be cooked. So, I'm assuming that if you buy it in bulk from a health food store, it should probably be rinsed first to get rid of any bitter-tasting residue that it might have on it. Hope that helps!

Allison said...

Just saw a great recipe on another blog, Multiply Delcious, for Grilled Veggie Quinoa...check it out. It looks delicious! I haven't tried it yet but I want to! :) http://www.multiplydelicious.com/thefood/2011/04/grilled-vegetable-carrot-quinoa/

Anonymous said...

I buy it in bulk. Soak it in hot water overnight and it will be easier to rinse the next morning.