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Fun with Quinoa

New Leaf Market E-newsletter April 26, 2012

By Bridget Welch, LMT

Whenever there is a potluck, my friends can always count on me to bring the quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is technically a seed, but is often used as a grain substitute. It’s great because it cooks quickly and has more protein than any other grain. It also tastes good hot or cold.

Originally touted by the wheat-free and gluten-free communities, quinoa is gaining popularity for being high in fiber, gluten-free and a complete protein. Its nutrient composition is very good compared with common cereal grains, containing essential amino acids like lysine, and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.

When purchasing quinoa, pay attention to whether or not is has been pre-rinsed. If not you will want to rinse it to remove the bitter saponins. To cook quinoa, treat it much like rice, bringing two cups (or less) of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 10–15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl. One can also use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).

One great way to serve quinoa is as a tabouli. Many folks are sensitive to wheat and gluten, so quinoa makes a hearty and welcome change from the traditional cracked bulgar wheat. To prepare Quinoa Tabouli, combine cooked and cooled quinoa, lots of parsley, tomato, a little onion and/or garlic, a hint of mint, some olive oil and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. For more recipes, visit here.

I commonly serve quinoa hot with steamed vegetables like broccoli, beets, onions, and peas. It makes a great lunch or a light dinner. Sometimes if I am not serving another protein with the quinoa, I’ll put walnuts or pecans in the steamer with the veggies, for extra substance. Steamed walnuts are incredibly tasty. Experiment, perhaps quinoa patties or quinoa mac and cheese will become a new staple.

Get creative with quinoa and enjoy!

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