Quinoa – Quinoa is considered a high protein grain, but it is actually a seed. Since Quinoa is cooked like a grain and looks like a grain it is often misclassified as one. It doesn’t really matter, it is very nutritious and worth learning to cook and eat.
Nutrients & Health Benefits – Quinoa is a unique source of plant protein in that it is actually a complete protein which means that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. This makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians, vegans, or those who consume little animal products. It is particularly rich in the amino acid lysine which is used for tissue growth and repair. It is rich in iron which is used in energy production and metabolism. It is rich in phosphorous which is important for cellular function and promotes bone health.
Quinoa is lower in sodium and higher in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, and zinc than other grains. Manganese and copper help the body fight against free-radical damage. Like Oats, it also contains tryptophan which aids in sleep.
Quinoa is also gluten- free so it is a great choice for those with gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease. It is less inflammatory than wheat.
Preparing Quinoa – It is coated in a natural insect repellant called saponin compounds. These compounds can cause a soapy taste. In order to remove this saponin residue it is important to rinse and soak quinoa. Cover in water and swish around. Let it sit and the residue will float to the top. Then strain it through a mesh strainer and rinse it with cold water, rubbing the seeds gently with hands. This may need to be repeated several times until the soapy residue no longer remains. Take the time to do this, it makes a difference.
Quinoa can be prepared like any other grain (even though it isn’t a grain!). It is great eaten hot or cold, in soups, on vegetables or in a salad with other vegetables.
DELICIOUS QUINOA SALAD
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 English cucumber, peeled and finely diced (21/2 cups)
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced (3/4 cup)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1. Bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 12 to 14 minutes, or
until quinoa is tender and small “tails” bloom from grains.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread pine nuts on baking sheet, and toast 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool, then transfer to large serving bowl.
3. Drain quinoa, and rinse under cold running water. Drain again. Add quinoa to pine nuts, and
stir in cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and parsley. Fold in oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.