Posts Under Tag: Quinoa

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Quinoa

1. Quinoa isn’t actually a grain at all. We cook and eat quinoa like many other grains, but, botanically speaking, it’s a relative of spinach, beets, and chard. The part we eat is actually the seed, cooked like rice, which is why quinoa is gluten-free. You can even eat the leaves! (Check out how crazy the plant looks!)

2. Quinoa is a complete protein. A 1955 paper dubbed quinoa a superstar long before 21st century publications were touting it for its nutritional powers. The authors of Nutritive Values of Crops, Nutrient Content and Protein Quality of Quinoa and Cañihua, Edible Seed Products of the Andes Mountains wrote:

“While no single food can supply all the essential life-sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom. That’s because quinoa is what’s called a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which cannot be made by the body and therefore must come from food.”

3. There are more than 100 types of quinoa. There are roughly 120 known varieties of quinoa, according to the Whole Grains Council. The most commercialized types are white, red, and black quinoa. White quinoa is the most widely available in stores. Red quinoa is more often used in meals like salads since it tends to hold its shape better after cooking. Black quinoa has an “earthier and sweeter” taste. You can also find quinoa flakes and flour.

4. You should probably rinse your quinoa. Those dried seeds are coated with a compound that would taste pretty bitter if you didn’t wash it off first. However, most modern-day packaged quinoa has been rinsed (a.k.a. processed), Cheryl Forberg, R.D., The Biggest Loser nutritionist and author of Cooking With Quinoa For Dummies, writes on her website. Still, she says, it’s probably a good idea to give yours a rinse before enjoying, just to be safe.

5. What’s the deal with that string? The cooking process releases what looks like a curly “tail” coming from the seed. That’s actually the germ of the seed, according to Forberg’s site, which separates slightly when your quinoa is ready.

Things you need to know about Quinoa

1. it’s delicious
No matter how ‘good for you’ a food is, I don’t include it in my diet unless it passes the taste test. Puffed quinoa won’t be starring on stonesoup anytime soon but the whole grains definitely make it. Slightly nutty and grainy, they’re something I could keep eating and eating.

2. it’s high in protein
A big positive for vegetarians as I’ve learned recently. It’s also pretty good on iron and fibre, which gets the nutritionists excited.

3. it’s gluten free
With my Dad being gluten intolerant, I’m always appreciative of new options to cook for him. He’s pretty keen on the rolled quinoa flakes for breakfast as well.

4. it needs washing before use
I read somewhere that the surface of quinoa contains a chemical called saponin that has a bitter soapy taste. Most commercial quinoa will already be washed and have the saponin removed but it’s a good idea to rinse it just before you use it in case there are residues.

5. it comes in different colours
Just like grapes, quinoa comes in different varieties. The most common is white, but there are also red and black. I’ve only ever come across the white variety.

6. it comes in different forms
Just like corn, it can be puffed or rolled into flakes or you can buy it whole.

7. it looks like a grain but is actually a seed

8. it has an interesting texture
The thing I love about quinoa is it’s texture. Something a little like barley with its chewiness, it also has a light fluffiness akin to well prepared couscous.

9. it’s better if you cook it
One of my first experiment with quinoa I just rinsed it in boiling water, tossed it in dressing and used it in a salad. It was edible but a little weird.

10. you can also eat the leaves
I’m yet to find a souce of fresh quinoa or it’s leaves but if you do apparently the leaves are edible. Something like chard or silverbeet.

11. it’s becoming more readily available
In Australia it’s even available in the ‘health food’ section of our supermarkets. Am sure any health food store worth its lentils would either already stock quinoa or be able to source it for you.