QUINOA

27 Jun

Well known as the ancient grain of the Incas, we’re so lucky to have this grain on our beautiful Earth to savor. It’s light and yummy, and easy to fall in love with at first bite.

Not only that, but its nutritional profile is amazing — high in complete protein, high in calcium, and containing silicon and magnesium which are needed in order for your body to make use of calcium. Brilliant.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is gluten-free so it’s perfect for those trying to avoid gluten, like celiacs. Lastly, quinoa is an alkaline grain, which helps to balance off the mostly acidic diet many of us have.

Cooked quinoa looks like a fluffy couscous except that each grain sports a distinctive tiny white filament. Quinoa is best when it retains a slight crunch. Cooked too long or in too much water, it turns to mush.

There are many varieties of quinoa, including black quinoa. Some imported varieties have an unappealing, slightly grassy taste. Thorough washing helps diminish this quality, as does cooking this grain with a smashed clove of garlic or substituting stock for water. (Note: Domestically grown quinoa is several shades of tan with some tiny black seeds.)

Honestly, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like quinoa. It’s just SO TASTY!

But it’s important that you learn to prepare it correctly for optimum flavor. You see, quinoa has a bitter coating called saponin that is believed to be a natural insect repellant. So let’s get started learning how to select, clean, cook and flavor your quinoa so you can create quinoa recipes that are pure perfection.

How to select Quinoa:

To begin with, always choose organic quinoa. Organics tend to contain more nutrients and less pesticides (and other poisons like arsenic!), and will help your quinoa recipes just taste better!

Quinoa can be found in most natural foods stores, and some mainstream grocery stores. Quinoa can be found pre-packaged, or in the bulk section of your health food store. Packaged quinoa tends to be cleaner than quinoa bought in bulk, although that shouldn’t dissuade you from buying bulk quinoa, which means less packaging for our landfills. Buy a little more than you need, storing the rest in the refrigerator or freezer.

There are many different varieties of quinoa, ranging from dark brown to nearly white. The large white variety is most readily available, and that’s good because it’s considered to have the greatest nutrient content and taste.

How To Clean and Prep Quinoa

As mentioned, quinoa contains a natural bitter coating (to keep bugs away) that needs to be rinsed off before cooking or your quinoa recipes could have a bitter flavor.

It’s easy to wash, though. Simply fill a large bowl with clean, fresh water. Add the quinoa to a FINE MESH strainer. (The strainer must be fine because quinoa is so teeny tiny it would slip through the holes of most strainers or colanders.) Bounce the strainer vigorously up and down, occasionally stirring the grain with your free hand. Change the water when it becomes dark, and repeat the process until the water stays clear.

It’s important to rinse your quinoa JUST BEFORE you use it. If the quinoa sits too long after rinsing it will throw off your cooking times and your quinoa will turn to mush. Yucksters!

Quinoa Vegan Flavor Matches

Create your very own quinoa recipes with some of your favorite ingredients from this list of foods that match perfectly with quinoa.

Avocado
Bacon, vegetarian (use sparingly — not a health food)
Balsamic vinegar
Beans, especially black
Beets
Bell Pepper, especially red
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Cashews
Chiles
Cilantro
Corn, sweet
Extra-virgin olive oil
Garlic
Ginger
Lemon
Lime
Mint
Onion
Orange
Oregano
Parsley
Pepper, black
Pine Nuts
Potatoes
Savory
Sesame seeds
Sour cream, non-dairy
Tamari (soy sauce)
Toasted sesame oil
Tomatoes, especially sun-dried
Scallions
Sea Salt
Tarragon
Vegetable Stock
Vegetables, all

Quinoa Helpful Hints

  • Store your quinoa in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh until you need it for your favorite quinoa recipes. (Not as important if you plan on using it right away.)
  • Quinoa can be made with either vegetable stock or water. Use veggie stock if you plan to serve quinoa as a substitute for rice. Switch to water if using quinoa as the base for a cold salad that will be seasoned with a vinaigrette.

Sourced from vegancoach.com

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