Quinoa: The New, 6,000 Year Old, Vegetarian Superfood

quinoa salad Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (pronounced keen wa) is a great addition to any vegetarian diet. It's packed with nutrition, easy to cook with, and has a delicious and mild, nutty flavor.

This grain–like seed is fairly new in North America, but it's been around for six thousand years. The ancient Incas harvested it, and considered it sacred. In fact, they called it the "mother of all grains."

Quinoa Nutrition

It's high in vegetarian protein (12-18 percent), and has all the essential amino acids. In fact, this is one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein.

What's more, it has more calcium than milk, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper and phosphorus.

In the kitchen

Because of its mild, nutty taste and grain–like texture, this superfood is incredibly versatile. You can use it to make risotto, cold salads, and stuffing.

Add a pat of butter or other seasonings to make a side dish. Or, mix it with other grains and vegetables for a satisfying main course.

Before cooking it, rinse it several times under cold water. This removes a coating that creates a bitter-taste. Then, simply boil it in water (package directions say two parts water, but I find that it needs a small amount more to cook fully).

You'll know when it's cooked because the seeds turn into tiny, fluffy spirals. If you don't see this, and the water has dried up, add a little more hot water and continue cooking.

Cooked Quinoa This close-up photo shows how cooked Quinoa turns into fuffy spirals.

You'll find this vegetarian superfood easy to cook with, delicious, and a great replacement for rice in any recipe.



References

Annie Launois, "Ancient grains on the rise, says Datamonitor," Foodnavigator.com, 7 May 2008.

Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole foods; Asian traditions and modern nutrition.

Joh Vaughan, Catherine Geissler, The New Oxford Book of Food Plants.

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