You may not yet be familiar of quinoa, but this seedy grain is quickly rising in popularity as a highly nutritious health food. Traditionally used as a staple food in South America, quinoa is one of the top providers of vegetarian protein, a whopping 8 grams per cup. Unlike wheat or rice, which lacks certain amino acids like lysine, quinoa delivers a complete set of all that is essential to your needs. It is high fiber with very low fat, sugar and starch. These qualities make quinoa an ideal food choice for people on weight loss or diabetic diet plans. Additionally, quinoa supplies a generous variety of vitamins and minerals including those with strong antioxidant properties. Having quinoa in your diet can help keep your body in shape and prevent diseases and cancers.
Quinoa is sold in most health food stores or in the organic food section of your local grocery. It comes in small, cream colored spherical particles. Quinoa is most often eaten as a breakfast hot cereal. Cooked quinoa looks similar to grits. It has a crunchy fluffy texture with a mild nutty taste.
Making Quinoa Porridge
Quinoa grain is coated with a bitter tasting compound saponin ,which is slightly toxic to your body. Though some food producers remove saponin during food processing, you should always wash the grain before cooking. To remove the saponin, pour the grain in a fine strainer or cheesecloth and wash it thoroughly under continuous running water. The better method is to soak your quinoa in cold water for 2 to 4 hours, then change water and resoak. This way not only do you completely eliminate toxicity of saponin, you also allow the grain to germinate, making it easier to digest and bringing up its nutritional quality.
After soaking, bring 3 cups of water of boil with 1 cup of grain. Then cover the pot and simmer for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tiny curly germ separates from the seeds. Cooked quinoa porridge has a slightly yellowish tone with similar texture as al dente pastas. Adjust the water level to make the porridge thicker or thinner.
You can make better tasting porridge by cooking the grain with broken pieces of walnuts, almond shavings or black sesame powder. You can also add some dried fruits like raisons and chopped prunes to give your porridge a sweeter taste. Serve with a tablespoon of honey for a delicious healthy breakfast.
If you prefer a more savory taste, you can season the porridge with some salt or cook it with chicken or vegetable stock.
Cooking Quinoa in a Rice Cooker
You can also treat quinoa as white rice and cook it in a steam cooker. Change to a fresh pot of water after your presoak. Use 2 cups of water or every 1 cup of quinoa. Add seasoning or other ingredients if you want. After the cook button pops up, wait for an additional 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Using Quinoa as a Salad Topper
Quinoa is a wonderful high-protein alternative to meat and can be used to spruce up the nutritional quality of your salad. You can use leftover steamed quinoa for this purpose, or simply use it raw after soaking it in water for 4 to 6 hours. The prolonged soaking allows germinated grain to soften, making it more palatable. A longer germination period also allows enzyme activation and can multiple your absorption of nutrients.