Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a superfood that is gaining momentum in its popularity because it is so healthy. The most notable bit about it's nutrition is it’s near perfect balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Not only does it have that ratio down to a science, the proteins are complete, which is very rare for proteins from a plant source.
The ideal ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats makes it a textbook example of the perfect “staple” for both athletes and people who are trying to lose weight. It can also be an aid to people trying to lose weight because the calories are relatively low – there are around 220 calories in a cup of quinoa (cooked). It can be a healthy way to stave off a dieter’s appetite, as it is very filling.
How to Cook Quinoa
Most cooking instructions will recommend that you let it soak for 10 to 45 minutes in warm water (if you plan to soak it for the shorter end of that time duration, use hot water).
The ratio of grain to water is in part what determines the texture. Typically, you will need between 1.25 and 2 cups of boiling water per cup of quinoa.
For a texture that is lighter or “fluffier”, use the lower end of the 1.25 to cups per cup of grain. My favorite texture usually takes a ratio of roughly one and a half times the water to the grain.
Add the water to a saucepot and boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the grains, and cover. Cook for at least 20 minutes (up to 40 minutes for a lighter texture).
*There are countless numbers of different instructions online, most of them suggesting that it be presoaked prior to cooking. In the number of times that we have made this tasty grain for dinner, we have found that the presoaking is not entirely necessary.
In fact, on the nights where we were too impatient to wait for it to presoak, we noticed that it retained more of it’s natural, nutty undertones when the soaking step was skipped.
Where can I buy Quinoa?
Despite the many health benefits, many people have still not even heard of it, which can make it a little tricky to locate in your average grocery stores. Your best bet, in terms of buying quinoa, is going to be either a local health food store, online, or the bulk aisle in your big box grocer. Fred Meyer is an example of a grocer that sells it in the bulk aisle, and for a reasonable price. Many other stores don’t carry it yet, and if they do, they sell it for an astronomical price. As it becomes more popular for it’s health benefits, it should be easier to find and eventually prices may go down.
How do I Cook with It?
It is really limitless in the dishes that you can make with it. The grain goes fantastic with almost any dish that would taste good with pasta, rice, or other generic “staple” food. You can make quinoa stir fry recipes, salads, soups, garden burgers, etc. It also tastes great plain, or with a tiny bit of butter and generous amount of pepper.
Read more about Quinoa Health Benefits