So the last two weeks of Superfood posts are covering foods that are maybe not labeled Superfoods, but in my kitchen they are because of their versatility and high nutrition! This week we will discuss Quinoa (Keen Wah)! Do you know what this is? Do you love it yet? If it is not in your kitchen, get it there! If you don't like it, I guarantee you haven't fixed it properly.
Quinoa is a gluten free grain replacement. It however is not a grain at all, it is a seed. It is extremely low glycemic. This makes it a Paleo Friendly food! It is a COMPLETE PLANT PROTEIN containing 8.1 grams of protein per cup! That is super great! It is rich in folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
Traditionally the quinoa plant is grown in South America, specifically in areas like Peru and Chili. However, it is from what I am learning a very hearty plant that can be even grown in containers! I'm excited about that since my living quarters are about to decrease. The leaves can be eaten in salad as well as the seeds being cooked. The oxalic acid rate is kind of high in the leaves though so if that's an issue stay away from those.
Quinoa is best to be soaked before being eaten. Two reasons for this are enzymes and saponins. Any times we soak nuts, seeds, and grains it makes enzymes more available in our foods. Enzymes are an important catalyst in digestion. You don't want to eat quinoa without soaking and cooking or at least soaking and sprouting.
Quinoa contains a plant compound called saponins. Saponins are a neat aspect for plants because it makes them bitter to the taste, which wards off pests and birds. Unfortunately large amounts ingested in our bodies can be toxic. An easy fix is soaking well and rinsing. In the USA most packaged quinoa has been per-rinsed, so that takes a little effort out of kitchen prep work. Just read the box or bag.
It has become so popular you can find it easily in the specialty markets like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Fresh Market. Health food stores that are smaller and local are bound to carry it. I've also seen in in Kroger and Costco. Then of course you can purchase it online.
If you actually haven't tried it yet, then I suggest going somewhere like Whole Foods Market and getting a 1/2 lb in bulk to try it. I've been told the quinoa in the bins is pre-soaked as well. Check on that in your local store.
You can use quinoa just like you would rice. It generally takes about 11/2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. I throw the water and quinoa in the pot together. It takes about 10 minutes on the stove. Stir it occasionally. You know it's cooked when the little off-white circles seem to have separated from the seeds.
I've used quinoa in salad with greens, or I've added homemade dressings to it with other veggies. It goes great in a stir fry! You can make a type of lasagna casserole dish with it. It goes great with black beans for a Tex Mex dish. It loves avocado, oh wait, maybe that's me who loves avocado. Fix it like oatmeal in the morning. Cooked quinoa can even be a protein source in smoothies. Most recently I used up some leftovers in a protein bar recipe. I have also thrown leftovers in soup. The sky is the limit!