Quite a few people have asked me recently how to cook quinoa and many of them first asked what exactly was quinoa. A few even asked how to pronounce it – is it “kee-know-ah”? So with that I figured it would be good to give a bit of information on this ‘superfood’.
What Is Quinoa?
For me, it seemed like quinoa only appeared on my radar within the last 5 years or so, but actually it’s been around for almost 5000 years. Native to the Andes Mountains in South American, the Inca considered it to be scared and referred to it as the “mother of all grains”. This was mainly because it was their primary food source and withstood most weather conditions.
Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah”, is actually the seed of the Goosefoot or Chenopodium plant and of the same plant family as beets and spinach. The seed colour ranges from white, to red and black. Quinoa is quite versatile and usually used as a substitute for wheat products. It can be ground into flour for baking or pasta. Recently I even discovered some tasty and ADDICTIVE quinoa crisps.
Is Quinoa Healthy?
Quinoa boasts a myriad of health benefits. It’s a rich source of B vitamins, vitamin E, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese and dietary fiber. It contains all nine of the essential amino acids and is approximately 12-18% protein. The “Mother of All Grains” is considered to be an excellent choice for diabetics as it has a lower glycemic index than any grain and is low in unsaturated fat. Those with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis will be happy to know that this seed is also gluten-free. Fun fact – NASA feeds quinoa to its crews on long space missions because of its nutritional benefits.
How to Cook Quinoa?
Quinoa is quite easy to cook and although a seed, it’s prepared much like grain. It can replace rice or coucous in many recipes and just like rice or pasta, quinoa can be served hot or cold. Once cooked, it has a mild nutty flavor and a fluffy texture like couscous.
- Basic Cooking Method
- 1 part quinoa (e.g. 1 cup)
- 2 parts water (e.g. 2 cups)
- In a saucepan bring the quinoa and water to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed. *For 2 cups of water to 1 part quinoa this should be approximately 15 minutes
- Fluff with a fork and soak
*Consider added spices and seasonings to the water
My Quinoa Recipes