Health Foods Demystified! Part 4 of 4: Quinoa.
Welcome to the final installment of my 4-part series: Health Foods Demystified, featuring recipes from the Happy Go Lucky Vegan. Over the past 3 weeks, we have talked about about Tempeh, Nutritional Yeast, and Seaweed.
Hi, folks! This week it’s all about my favorite grain the whole, wide world: Quinoa!!
Right off the bat, let’s pronounce it correctly. Say: KEEN-wah.
Quinoa is going to change your life. Light and fluffy - yet hearty at the same time - quinoa is a rock star in the world of whole grains.
What’s so great about quinoa?
Quinoa is an ancient grain that comes from South America. People go quoo-quoo for quinoa because it is an excellent source of protein. In fact, it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a ‘complete’ protein in and of itself. This makes it a fantastic choice for pretty much everyone.
Quinoa is also a very good source of magnesium. Magnesium matters - because it helps relax blood vessels, which is important for cardiovascular health and even reducing migraines.
Finally, because quinoa is a whole grain, it’s a great source of fiber - which, of course, is a crucial part of a healthy diet. Fiber helps clean out your innards!
In a word, quinoa ROCKS.
What does it taste like?
Quinoa has a slightly nutty, slightly creamy, slightly pasta-esque taste. It adapts well to many different kinds of seasonings and sauces - much like rice. Its texture is light - almost like couscous - but it’s also got a teensy bit of a crunch to it, but not in an obnoxious way. I’m tellin’ ya - ya just gotta try it!
Also - you may see in the picture above that quinoa comes in different colors (red, black, white). There is no nutritional difference between the colors - nor is there a major difference in the taste. The white quinoa tends to be the most ‘neutral’ tasting - with the red and the black having a bit more earthy depth.
What do you do with it?
So. Many. Options. Almost wherever you would use rice, you can use quinoa. It’s a great side dish, it’s a great main course, it’s great for breakfast - the possibilities are endless.
As for preparing quinoa - it couldn’t be simpler. Generally speaking, you’d use 1 part quinoa with 2 parts water or broth. You throw it all in a pot with a pinch of salt and simmer for 20-30 minutes. It’s done when all the water is absorbed and when the quinoa appears translucent. Bam. You have quinoa.
And now, for the last time (for now, at least!) here’s another glorious recipe from my pal, The Happy Go Lucky Vegan…..
I don’t know about you, but cereal and oatmeal get a lot of attention at breakfast time in this house. Why not change up the usual routine, and include a nutrient-rich ancient grain? Quinoa is my favorite grain to brighten a dull breakfast, stuff in a baked pepper, or sprinkle on a green salad. During breakfast time, I love to cook quinoa in apple or berry juice to give my tastebuds a big POW! When it’s cooked, sprinkle on your favorite fruit and nuts, or even add a scoop of peanut butter; and you’ve got a seriously delicious breakfast with some serious health benefits! Kids love this one too.
Breakfast Quinoa (Serves 1-2)
1 cup quinoa 2 cups apple juice dash cinnamon Fruit such as berries, bananas or apples Nuts or seeds such as walnuts, almonds or pumpkin seeds
Method: In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa and apple juice. Bring to boil, and turn the flame down to a simmer. Allow quinoa to simmer for 25-30 minutes, or when the juice has cooked down. Sprinkle in a dash of cinnamon, and add your favorite fruit, seeds and nuts. Serve warm.
About the author: Jesse Nattamai lives, writes, gardens and feeds her ravenous appetite in Tucson, Arizona with her spicy-food loving husband and adorable dog. She taught middle school history for five years, and currently runs her own food blog at Happy Go Lucky Vegan while freelancing for other related websites. On the side, Jesse enjoys leading tours and workshops at Tucson Botanical Gardens, and writing short stories.