“Keen-wah” is how you pronounce the nutritious, versatile, and delicious seed that is gaining popularity. Quinoa is not a grain, but rather a seed that tastes like a grain. It is a complete protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids. A little note on amino acids and complete proteins:
Dietary protein is broken down into its essential elements, amino acids, which the body uses as building blocks to make new proteins. Animal-based proteins contain the essential amino acids needed for protein synthesis, and they are considered “complete” or “high-quality” proteins. Although legumes, grains, nuts and seeds contain protein, they do not provide the ideal mix of amino acids that the body needs, so they are said to be “incomplete.” In addition, plant sources of protein tend to be harder for the body to digest, so less of what we eat is available for use. However, eating the right combination of plant proteins can give a vegetarian the needed mix of amino acids. Plant proteins that provide the required amino acids when combined complement each other to make a complete protein source. For example, whole wheat bread and peanut butter or beans and corn are complementary proteins. Complementary proteins should be consumed within the same day, but they do not have to be eaten simultaneously. –acsm.org
I love quinoa and have made it a staple in my diet for a couple of years now. However, while researching this topic for today, I learned some new things myself! I learned that quinoa is closely related to spinach, chard, and beets – and each quinoa plant can produce up to 1 cup of seeds! Here are some more of my new favorite quinoa facts:
1. More than 200,000 pounds are grown each year in the US Rocky Mountains.
2. It is best to store quinoa in an airtight container; stored in the refrigerator, it will keep for three to six months. (Awesome!)
3. The Inca referred to quinoa as the “mother seed,” and considered it to be sacred. They grew quinoa in South America in the high altitude of the Andes. It was also their staple food for 5,000 years.
To learn more about the benefits, history, and uses of this phenomenal food, check out whfoods.com.
I learned the hard way, but the easiest way to cook quinoa is in a rice cooker. 2 parts water to 1 part seed. It will cook perfectly every time!
A few awesome quinoa recipes for you to try asap!
Clean out the Kitchen Quinoa Bowl
Cooked quinoa and your choice of veggies, beans, fruit, and spices.
Here is one of my most recent bowls using up some fresh food that needed to be eaten soon!
Chopped up apple, green onion, clementine, dried cranberries, lime juice and EVOO. Throw in some baby kale greens, and I think you are covered!
- Greek Style Quinoa Burgers
- ½ cup rinsed quinoa
- 1 medium carrot, cut in large chunks
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 5 ounces great northern beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup plain dried bread crumbs
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- Coarse salt
- Ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 pitas
- ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced diagonally
- In a small saucepan, bring ¾ cup water to a boil; add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, half the scallions, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
- Form mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties (dip hands in water to prevent sticking). If too soft, refrigerate 10 minutes to firm. In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, and the remaining scallions; season with salt and pepper. Serve burgers in pita topped with cucumber and yogurt sauce.
- 1⁄2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1⁄3 cup olive oil, or more as needed
- 1⁄4 cup lemon juice, or more as needed
- Black pepper
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
- 1 cup cooked or canned white or pink beans, drained,
- optional 6 or 7 radishes, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup chopped scallions
- 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- About 6 black olives, pitted and chopped, or to taste, optional
- 2 celery stalks (leaves included if possible),
- chopped 1⁄4 cup chopped pistachios or almonds, optional
- Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with 3⁄4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and bubble gently until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, 15 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Toss the warm quinoa with the oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with pepper. (You can make the quinoa up to a day in advance: Just cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
- Just before you’re ready to eat, add the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more oil or lemon juice as needed, then serve.
And lately I have been warming my quinoa on the stove in the morning with some Almond milk, cinnamon, sliced banana, and walnuts. Quinoa for breakfast has got to be my new fav!