Quinoa is quite new to the western diet, in terms of visibility and use. Jamie Oliver even ironically quotes it as “fashion ingredient” in one of his latest shows…
It originates from South America, more precisely in the Andes, where it grows in rather harsh climatic conditions.
It is a pseudo-cereal, which means it looks like a cereal and is used as such, but it is really a seed. It has several important nutritional qualities (*):
It contains all the essential amino acids that comprise the protein, contrary to other sources of vegetable protein, hence we often say that “it has a lot of protein”.
It is naturally gluten-free.
It is rich in fiber and minerals like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
It has low levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
It has antioxidant components (manganese).
In my kitchen, quinoa has become the food equivalent of a comfortable pair of jeans.
Quick To Cook
Packages say 10 to 15 minutes and it is true that one can cook it like rice. But with my method for busy people, you only have to be around for 5 minutes, in the remaining 5 or 10, the quinoa works by itself!
As it is naturally free of gluten and has all the essential amino acids (complete protein), is perfect for anyone who is intolerant or even allergic to gluten and for fit people whose main health goal is to increase or protect muscle mass.
In my specific case, I’m not exactly an athlete but I take great care of my protein intake. In the past, I’ve had several problems due to insufficient protein intake – amongst them hair loss – and age does not help either.
Quinoa can be part of any meal as a main course as well as a side dish.
You can use leftovers in a soup for dinner, on those days you want to eat less and detox a little.
You can also find quinoa flakes. I’m not going to fool you, this version does not particularly please me, all by itself. Tastes a bit like paper.
But when I was desperately looking for ways to get rid of the bag I had bought I discovered a fantastic application: in place of breadcrumbs!
I hate the “hidden evils” in food and I find breadcrumbs to be one of them … By using quinoa flakes I’m not adding gluten to my dishes and I’m even increasing the protein content of the meal. Best of both worlds!
There are recipes for based breakfast as if it were oatmeal, but I haven’t tried it yet – a challenge for the near future.
Where To Buy
Today, quinoa is very easy to find in supermarkets, nowadays they all have a whole food, healthy and/or organic food area. But in case of difficulty, you can get it online.
Basic Method To Cook Quinoa
- 1 teacup quinoa (my usual cup takes 160 grams of raw quinoa)
- 2 cups hot water
- Sea salt or Himalayan Pink Salt
For more people, always keep the ratio 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, it works for any quantity.
Rinse the quinoa to eliminate the saponin, which besides being bitter also has some toxicity. Be aware that the beans are small, it is best to use a tight mesh strainer. You can also soak it for a few hours.
Put the quinoa in a pot, with water. Season with a little salt. Let it boil for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Leave the pot to rest covered for another 10 minutes, you will see that the quinoa is at the point – translucent, with its “ring of Saturn” (the germ) in sight, but without being soft or soggy. Fluff with a fork.
According to the most common method, when the water with the quinoa begins to boil season with a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to the minimum and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes. You should check the cooking process at 10 minutes and add water if necessary.
More recipes here at Glow Chef:
- Lemon and ginger quinoa
- Tomatoes stuffed with quinoa, dried tomatoes, and pine nuts
- Turkey meatloaf with herbs
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(*) Source: Quinoa, by Clea; Éditions La Plage.