Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a super food packed with nutrition. It is an excellent substitute for foods that are high in carbs but low in nutritional value, such as white rice, white pasta and potatoes. It is ideal for most diets, including vegetarian and vegan, because it is high in protein. One cup has about 8 grams of protein and is full of fiber, to help you feel fuller longer. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, make it ideal for anyone with diabetes, or those trying to lose weight.
What is quinoa? Quinoa is not a grain, but rather, a tiny seed that is grown in South America. It was considered ‘Aztec gold’ and a food of the gods for centuries. It fell into disused in the Americas after the quinoa cultivating areas were decimated by Spanish conquistadors in the 15th and 16th centuries. But in the past 40 years or so, it has made a comeback and is now cultivated more and more once again, even in the US.
Its relative rarity compared with rice makes it significantly more expensive, but the good news is that a little quinoa can go a long way if you plan carefully.
Cooking quinoa The easiest way to cook quinoa and use it is to treat it like rice. The real difference between the two is the water to food ratio. Most rice is 1 to 1 with water, so 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of water is about right. With quinoa, you can do 1 to 2 or even 1 to 4, that is, 1 cup of quinoa with up to 4 cups of water. This stretches it further and make it more filling.
Place the quinoa in a glass bowl, stir in the water, and cook in the microwave for about 15 minutes. It really is that easy.
Using cooked quinoa in recipes Once the quinoa is cooked, you can use it in a range of recipes. It has low impact on blood sugar and a pleasant, nutty taste, so it will lend itself to any meal.
Breakfast Quinoa porridge is a nice alternative to oatmeal.
Lunch It is perfect in a pilaf or salad.
Dinner Use as you would brown rice, in soups, stews, with stir fry and more.
Dessert It can be added to cakes and puddings to cut calories and fat.
Now that you have discovered the wonders of quinoa, try using it instead of brown rice and see what a difference it can make to your health.