As you know this month, we’ll be covering What’s HOT in Food for 2013. Today, we’re embracing #12 on the list of TOP 20 Trends: Non-wheat noodles/pasta like QUINOA.
You can mix anything you like with quinoa. It serves as an excellent base for vegetables, meat, spices and even fruit. You can serve it hot or cold, and as a main dish, side, soup or salad. It’s as versatile as it is healthy for you! Pictured above is a tomato quinoa salad with red pepper, spinach and fresh mozzerella.
Quinoa Tips and instructions from Elizabeth…
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is technically a seed, although many consider it a grain. Always searching for “healthy” sources of protein, I jumped right on the quinoa bandwagon when I learned it was packed with protein (it’s actually a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids). When I first tried quinoa, I was thrilled to discover that I didn’t have to choke it down – I actually liked it! I substitute quinoa as a nutritious grain for rice and couscous in soups, salads and side dishes. My family successfully made the crossover too!
Although many people have never heard of quinoa, let alone tasted it, the Incas have been relying on this grain (“Mother Grain”/”the gold of the Incas”) for centuries. Quinoa is light and fluffy when cooked up, it reminds me of a more delicate couscous. Versatility is a big quinoa attribute, use it as an airy bed for most anything, stir fry, veggies, chili or a hearty base for soups and salads. This protein powerhouse grain is high in a number of key nutrients, calcium and magnesium to name a few, and it’s a great source of fiber; it’s also gluten free.
I always prepare 2x as much quinoa as I’ll be serving and refrigerate the leftovers for a quick protein boost at lunch or dinner during the week. Be creative and mix in a bit of olive oil, fresh herbs, veggies, and citrus juice – experiment until you find a combination that tickles your taste buds.
How to prepare quinoa:
- Use 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa.
- To serve 4 people and have leftovers for the week, I use 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa.
- Line a sieve/strainer with a paper coffee filter and rinse thoroughly (there’s a soapy coating on the quinoa seeds called saponins). Quinoa is so small that a regular strainer won’t retain much of it. Don’t worry about thoroughly draining quinoa since you’ll be adding it right into the water.
- Bring water to a boil, add quinoa, stir, cover and reduce to a simmer.
- Keep covered and simmer for 12-15 minutes.
Here are 2 other suggestions for preparing quinoa from Lisa Fessler, Trainer and Healthy Cooking Lover. Refer back to How to prepare quinoa instructions.
#1: Substitute the water value with coconut water (plus about an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to add until cooked). When the quinoa is cooked add zest of 1 lime, juice of 1 lime, 1 c of chopped cilantro and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
#2: Heat 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil to covered pot. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add the desired measure of uncooked quinoa and “toast” quinoa for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add appropriate amount of water (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa) and cook as usual. Finish quinoa with grilled vegetables and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.