Nutritious and Delicous Quinoa
Tired of white rice, rice pasta and rice cereal? Then why not try a healthy gluten-free alternative called quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”). A staple of the ancient Inca’s who called it the “mother grain”, quinoa contains more high quality protein than any other grain. It is also high in iron, magnesium, zinc and a source of B vitamins, calcium and fiber.
The quinoa seed looks like a cross between sesame seed and millet and is covered with saponin, a bitter coating to protect it from insects and birds. Quinoa should be rinsed before using to remove the saponin. There are many varieties of quinoa grown in South and North America.
Quinoa can be purchased as a seed (e.g., white, red, black), flour, flakes, pasta (combination of quinoa and rice or corn), hot cereal, cookies, snack foods and soups.
The quinoa seed can be cooked and used as a side dish instead of rice or potatoes, in pilafs or salads, as a stuffing, in casseroles, or a thickener for soups and chili. Quinoa flour has a slightly nutty, strong flavor so it is best combined with other gluten-free flours (use about 25% quinoa flour in baked product recipes such as breads, muffins, cookies and pancakes). The quinoa flakes can also be used in baked products or cooked as a hot cereal.
To cook the quinoa seed, rinse several times in cold water. Add 1 cup of quinoa and 1½ cups of water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.
Here are two delicious recipes using quinoa:
Roasted Chicken with Quinoa Stuffing and Shallot Sauce
Quinoa Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Article by Shelley Case, RD
Shelley Case, RD is a consulting dietitian, speaker and author of the national best seller Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. See www.glutenfreediet.ca