Quinoa

Quinoa

Not familiar with quinoa?  Well, you are about to be.  I predict that quinoa will soon be everywhere, a world-wide munching phenomenon!  Quinoa is prolific and easy to farm, cheap and delicious and crazy killer good for you.  If you could buy stock in a grain, this is one to bank on.  The more I eat quinoa, the more I love it and you will too.  Give in to this affordable, healthy, easy to cook grain and you’ll be rewarded in multiple ways.

Quinoa is a lot like rice in many ways.  Deceptively simple, but delicious in its own special way.  The preparation is simple and it’s a total bargain.  Versatile and used in many cuisines and applications. But quinoa has its own groove going on with an unusually nutty and somewhat grassy flavor.  It’s also faster to cook than rice and when it comes to nutrition, LOOK OUT!

Quinoa is one healthy monkey!  Packed, packed, packed with protein and amino acids it is a complete protein and also contains iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and fiber.  It’s gluten free too!  Though it may be relatively new to us healthy eaters, quinoa has been farmed for thousands of years and was revered by the Incans in the Andes Mountains.  “The Mother Grain” was the name given to quinoa by the Incans who celebrated it and recognized its incredibly healthy properties.

Some quinoa has a coating of saponins on the outside of the grain and we all know what that means right?  I wasn’t sure either, so I researched this jive and learned that saponins are a mildly toxic, soapy substance with a bitter taste.  You don’t really want to eat it and fear not, you don’t have to.  Most of the quinoa sold at market has already been washed to remove this stuff.  I also hear that some quinoa has been bread to have a low saponin content.  At any rate, I strongly encourage you to rinse your quinoa really well before cooking just in case.  Personally, I’ve never had a problem but it doesn’t hurt to play it safe.

When you cook quinoa a really cool thing happens.  Each little granule sprouts a cute, tiny, curly tail.  Drag your kids into the kitchen and show them this miracle of mother nature.  That tail is actually the germ sprouting through the grain to let you know its tender and ready to eat.

You could use quinoa damn near anywhere and with anything.  Substitute it for rice anytime you like.  Try some stir-fried with garlic.  Stuff some veggies or meat with it.  I make museli at home sometimes and add quinoa to the nuts and grain mix before roasting in the oven—it browns and crisps nicely.  Quinoa makes a mean breakfast—an oatmeal alternative.  I love my sweet quinoa cakes in the morning and the savory ones are a great side dish and a killer lunch with a salad.

Take it from me, take it from the Incas, take it to the bank!  Quinoa is a wonderfully delicious, healthy and fun grain that you should be eating.  Get creative with it, be bold and fearless and have a heaping pile of the Mother Grain soon!