If you’ve never tried Quinoa.. Wait I should start that again. Have you ever heard of Quinoa? Quinoa (keen-wa) is a South American grain-like seed which was known by the Incas as chisaya mama or mother of all grains * It is grown today mainly in Peru.
Quinoa “has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest” *
Quinoa in its natural state has a bitter coating which has been an issue with acceptance in North America. This can be alleviated by soaking for several hours prior to preparing. The first time I had it 10 years ago or so, I did not like it due to this problem but I love the stuff now. I think advances in processing and selective breeding have greatly reduced this bitterness and most Quinoas available (at least in Edmonton) shouldn’t require the soaking step. Read the package instructions.
Now back to “if you’ve never tried quinoa”, it’s a simple to prepare, healthy and versatile ingredient. You can use it as a high protein breakfast cereal (think hot with cinnamon & brown sugar), in pilafs and risottos (or any rice dish) and makes a great gluten free couscous. The recipe here is a simple salad that we have all the time.
Prepare 1 cup quinoa according to package instructions (usually 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa for 20 minutes)
Let cool for 30 minutes or so. In reality I probably let it cool for about the amount of time it takes to prepare the rest of the ingredients. You can serve it hot if you prefer.
Seed & chop 1 medium red bell pepper into medium chunks (~1/2 inch)
Chop 3-4 green onions
Add the following to a bowl
1/4 c olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & freshly ground pepper
Mix the dressing with a fork.
Combine quinoa, onions & peppers and toss with dressing. Serve. Goes great with just about anything.
A side note, our son’s girlfriend is a type 1 diabetic and told us that this “grain” salad hardly moved her blood sugar levels. She was astonished. The carbs in quinoa are complex and combined with the high protein count, quinoa probably should be in every diabetics food toolkit.
One final note, the Wikipedia article mentions that quinoa is a candidate for a crop on long term human spaceflight missions. How cool is that..