Quinoa has been a staple in my life since I first discovered it about 15 years ago. It didn’t yet enjoy the fame it does today, and I must admit it took a bit of trial and error before I mastered this little grain.
Well, seed actually. Because contrary to what most people think, quinoa is actually the seed of a plant related to leafy green vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens.
Although it’s fairly new to the Western world, it has been cultivated in the Andean mountain regions of Peru, Chile, and Bolivia for over 5,000 years.
This little seed, once called “the gold of the Aztecs”, has exceptional health benefits and is gluten free. It’s one of few complete plant based protein sources (meaning it provides all of the 9 essential amino acids), and an excellent source of dietary fiber. It’s also high in minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorus and contains good levels of vitamin E and B2.
As well as being highly nutritious, it’s also super versatile and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as a side dish, or mixed into a sweet snack.
A few recipe ideas with quinoa:
- As a side dish to almost any meat, fish, or vegetarian dish
- Mixed with roasted veggies, and topped with a nice dressing
- Stuffed in roasted peppers, tomatoes, or zucchini
- Mixed with eggs, cheese, and veggies to make quinoa cups
- Blended into soups
- Sprouted, added to salads, spreads, soups
- Sprinkled on a salad
- Added to granola bars
- Used for tabbouleh: chilled and mixed with finely chopped raw veggies, herbs, seeds, pomegranate, and feta
- Boiled in milk to make breakfast porridge, with vanilla and cinnamon powder, nuts, seeds, and berries for instance
- Blended into a flour used in baking
- Rolled into quinoa burgers
- Used to make pizza crust
- As the base of Buddha bowls
- Rolled into sushi rolls instead of rice
Pinterest is full of quinoa recipes and I plan to post quite a few of the above ideas on the blog in the next few months…
How to make perfect quinoa
Rinse the quinoa under running water using a fine mesh colander and drain well. This step is needed to remove the natural bitterness on the outer shell of the quinoa (caused by naturally occurring saponins).
Add 1 part quinoa and 1 + 3/4 parts purified water to a saucepan + 1/4 parts tamari. At this point you could also add some lemon juice, garlic cloves, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, cumin, or any herbs you like
Bring to a boil.
As soon as the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and let it cook on low for about 13 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Keep an eye on it towards the end because you don’t want it to burn to the pan
Turn the heat off and let it sit for a few minutes with a piece of paper towel under the lid to absorb any excess water.
Using a fork, fluff the quinoa and if desired stir in some olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed organic butter, or ghee.
Tip for the planners amongst you:
If you know you’re going to make quinoa for dinner, simply soak it in clean water right before you run out the door in the morning. Soaking quinoa makes it much easier to digest and increases the bioavailability of the nutrients. As a bonus it will only have to cook for about 5 minutes!