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    • What is Quinoa?

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    •  10/30/2010 1:19:19 PM
    •  If any of you are like me, When I first heard the word quinoa it went in one ear and out the other. Even when I saw the label quinoa I pronounced it so wrong that no one knew what I was talking about. Here is a little insight on this versatile grain-like food that I have come to love!


      Quinoa (pronounced /ˈkiːnwɑː/ or /kɨˈnoʊ.ə/, Spanish quinua, from Quechua kinwa), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets,spinach and tumbleweeds.


       This crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. 


      Now that you are up to date with all the that, then next question:

       

      HOW DO I EAT IT?

      I try to substitute quinoa  in place of rice or even instead of oatmeal in the mornings. The great thing about this yummy grain-like food, is its high nutritional value and ability to take on whatever flavor you want.  You can mix it with fresh veggies and sprinkle it with balsamic vinegar for a delicious lunch. Use it as a side dish for any meal. My kids really like it with fresh chopped fruit, rice milk, and cinnamon. You really can't go wrong no matter what you do.


      Recipes from our site that use quinoa:

      MANGO SALAD

      CILANTRO LIME QUINOA

      ZESTY QUINOA BEAN MEDLEY

       

      HOW TO COOK IT:

      The first step in preparing quinoa is to remove the saponins, a process that requires soaking the grain in water for a few hours, then changing the water and resoaking, OR rinsing it in ample running water either in a fine strainer or in cheesecloth. (I prefer a quick rinse with a stainer) Removal of the saponin helps with digestion; the soapy nature of the compound makes it act as a laxative. Most boxed quinoa has been pre-rinsed for convenience.

      A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like an al dente pasta). As an alternative, you  can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).


       

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