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Food for Thought Fridays: The Why and How to Cook Quinoa

Welcome to Food for Thought Fridays! Here at Intentional By Grace we are all about healthy eating! Join me each Friday to learn about common (and sometimes uncommon) foods we eat and how they affect our bodies.

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Quinoa is hands down one of our favorite foods. There is no doubt that you will see it show up on our weekly menu plan at least once a week, if not more. We typically eat it for breakfast, but I’m in the process of learning how to incorporate it into our diet at other parts of the day.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is said to be the “mother of all grains,” but in reality, quinoa is not a grain. It is actually a leafy green vegetable like Spinach or Swiss chard. However, we cultivate quinoa for its edible seeds, which is the part most commonly bought and consumed.

Quinoa is a cute, light, curly grain that cooks in approximately twenty minutes, and it is rather nutty in flavor. For some, this is a great gluten free alternative to other commonly used grains such as oatmeal, rice, and breads.

What are the nutritional benefits of quinoa?

Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all nine essential amino acids. This nutritional power house contains large amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, as well as iron.

One-quarter cup of uncooked quinoa (1/2 cup cooked) provides more than 45% of one’s daily needs of manganese.

To boot, quinoa is a good source of dietary fiber.

Did I mention that quinoa is gluten free? Ok, just checking.

How do I cook quinoa?

In our house, quinoa is a staple. We primarily eat it for breakfast, as we love how just ¾ cup of quinoa will feed both of us a good hearty breakfast. Since a little bit goes a long way, quinoa can be considered an incredibly frugal food.

In general though, quinoa grains are cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

In order to get the full nutritional benefits of quinoa, I suggest you germinate your quinoa in its raw form. Germination activates the natural enzymes and multiplies the vitamin content. This is easy to do, and only adds two extra steps to your preparation.

Basic Quinoa Recipe

To just simply cook quinoa, you will need to do the following.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water, for soaking/germination
  • 2 cups water, for cooking
  • 2 Tablespoons acid medium (Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Kefir, Kombucha, lemon juice, yogurt, etc.)

To Germinate/Soak:

  1. Thoroughly rinse quinoa in a strainer for about 2 minutes.
  2. Heat water on the stove to warm – just to when you see the little bubbles start to form on the bottom.
  3. Add rinsed quinoa to the pot.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of acid medium (We use Raw Apple Cider Vinegar)
  5. Place lid on the pot.
  6. Let it sit overnight, or for at least 2-3 hours though some say a minimum of 7 hours.

Note: Even if you do not desire to germinate (heat water and add acid medium), you should at the very least rinse your quinoa thoroughly and soak in plain water.

To Make:

  1. Rinse quinoa and replace back in pot with 2 cups of fresh water, optional. We do this to remove the acid medium taste. However, you don’t have to. If you want, you can skip to step 2.
  2. Bring water to boil.
  3. Once boiling, turn down and simmer uncovered for approximately 10-20 minutes.

Recipe for Breakfast Quinoa:

Follow the Basic Quinoa Recipe from above. Then add additional fillers during step #3 and toppings to complete your hearty, “hold ya over ‘til lunchtime” kind of meal.

Recommended fillers: chopped apples, raisins, cranberries, etc.

Recommended toppings: honey, butter, walnuts, almonds, raw milk, strawberries, blueberries, etc.

Our favorite way to eat quinoa for breakfast: chopped apples, raisins, walnuts, honey, and lots of butter

Additional recipes you might want to try:

Quinoa Garden Salad
Quinoa Tabouli
Quinoa and Black Beans
Mustard Greens + Beans Quinoa
Antioxidant Salad Recipe with Quinoa, Greens, Avocado, and Goji Berries

Now, it’s your turn!

Have you ever eaten quinoa? What is your favorite way to eat it?

 

Sources:
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/NEWCROP/AFCM/quinoa.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa

http://gnowfglins.com/2008/04/01/a-grain-primer/

 

 

 

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