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Over the past two weeks I’ve had a few people ask me about Quinoa or let me know that they have heard of it, tried or enjoyed it and this, coupled with my love of quinoa has prompted me to share.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is often called a whole grain, the mother grain or an ancient grain, although it really is a seed. Originally cultivated in the Andes, quinoa was considered sacred by the Inca, and has been around for some 3000 years!
There are many types of quinoa, the three that are commonly found for consumption are white, red and black. Quinoa is currently experiencing a surge in popularity because it it really easy to cook, has a pleasing fluffy texture and nutty taste and is pretty healthy. Nutritional benefits include a high amount fiber, low fat and a great source of protein (8 grams per cup, cooked) as well as being cholesterol and gluten free. It only takes about 15-20 minutes to cook and is very versatile so you can eat it at any meal of the day. There are a lot of pre-packaged and flavored quinoa options available at most grocery stores, but I personally prefer (and recommend) buying it in bulk from the bins. You can also find quinoa flakes, flour and pasta offering even more ways to enjoy it.
Here are a few tips for cooking quinoa, along with some of my favorite quinoa dishes, one for every meal of the day!
Tips for cooking with Quinoa
- You don’t need to soak it but you will want to rinse it, even if it is “pre-rinsed”. Rinse in a metal strainer with warm water.
- It doubles when you cook it; for example 1 cup uncooked becomes 2 cups cooked.
- Can be prepared in a rice cooker or on the stove with 2 parts liquid (water or broth) to 1 part quinoa. So if you are cooking 2 cups of quinoa you would use 4 cups of liquid.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes.
- I like to cook enough quinoa for a few dishes, about 2-3 cups (uncooked) at a time. It can be refrigerated for 3-5 days in an airtight container and can be eaten cold or reheated for use in meals throughout the week.
Recipes and Ideas
Quinoa cereal to start your day. If you have the quinoa already cooked it takes just a couple minutes to prepare.This dish is a favorite in our house, can be enjoyed warm or cold, and you can add what you like to it.
You will need
- About 1 cup of cooked quinoa
- Milk -amount and type of your choice (I have used soy and sunflower milks and have had wonderful results)
- Cinnamon and/or brown sugar or honey (optional)
- Any mix-ins you want, such as sliced bananas or apples, berries, raisins, nuts or seeds, dried fruit, peanut or other nut butter, coconut oil/milk, chia seeds, etc.
Some of my favorite combinations include peanut butter, raisins and cinnamon as well as bananas, strawberries and a little coconut oil or coconut milk!
Wrap it up at lunch for an easy, healthy and super quick meal that you can customize for endless options! Again with the quinoa already cooked this one will only take a few minutes. Depending on the size of the wrap (or tortilla) you will probably need ½ cup – 1 cup of cooked quinoa, warm or cold (I prefer cold).This one is a sun-dried tomato wrap with quinoa, spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado and lightly sauteed onions and bell peppers with a splash of vinegrette (delicious!)
Another delicious option is to spread hummus on the wrap, top with quinoa, cucumbers, tomato and lettuce roll it up and enjoy.
Make a delectable dinner serving atop a bed of mixed greens and quinoa. At our house we use quinoa like we use rice, which means is it easy to serve with a stir fry, with steamed or sauteed veggies and even chili.
One of my favorites includes steamed asparagus, sauteed mushrooms, onions, peppers and tofu with a butter and balsamic vinaigrette sauce. While the quinoa is cooking, I steam the asparagus (personal preference for taste and color) and saute sliced mushrooms, onions, peppers and cubed tofu in a little olive oil. Before I turn of the heat on the saute pan I add in a few splashes of the balsamic vinaigrette and let it simmer a little longer. I then I melt some butter mixing 1 part butter to two parts balsamic vinaigrette. Top about 1 cup of quinoa with the asparagus, then add the sauteed veggies, sprinkling the sauce on top, voila!
Delicious Desert (or snack) with a quinoa parfait. Another dish where you get to add in the flavors you enjoy! Use the cooked quinoa cold, like you would granola in a parfait, layering it between yogurt, pudding or custard and fresh fruit.
I enjoy this one with pineapple and blueberry Greek yogurt. People with dairy sensitivities or those on a vegan diet can enjoy any alternative yogurts; it is wonderful with the soy and coconut yogurts. I also like layering the pineapple flavored coconut yogurt with strawberries and bananas, for a tropical tasting parfait with a texture that sort of reminds me of tapioca. Another option is using banana pudding or custard and a little chocolate syrup, mmmmm…so many yummy possibilities!
And so many more options…. add to soups or salads, roll up with peanut butter for little quinoa bites, pancakes, muffins, breads or mix it into your favorite recipes and share in the comments below!
Nutritional Information (according to the USDA nutrient database):
Serving size: 1 cup of cooked quinoa (185 grams)
- 222 calories
- 8g protein
- 3.5g fat
- 39.41 mg carbohydrates
- 31 mg calcium
- 2.76 mg iron
- 318 mg potassium
- 13 mg sodium
- 2.02 mg zinc
Enjoy and Namaste!
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+