Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, folate, and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.
Tips for Preparing Quinoa
Since quinoa has a low gluten content, it's one of the least allergenic "grains," but its flour needs to be combined with wheat to make a leavened baked goods. Quinoa flour can be used to make pasta, and quinoa pastas are available in many natural foods stores.
1. Measure quinoa and liquid.
Measure out 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups liquid for a fluffy quinoa used in a salad
(1 cup quinoa to 3 cups water for a pudding)
2. Rinse the quinoa.
Place the quinoa in a very fine-mesh strainer, and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hand while rinsing, and rinse for at least 2 minutes under the running water. Drain.
Why rinse quinoa? Rinsing removes quinoa's natural coating, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter or soapy. Although boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, it doesn't hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse at home. Some cookbooks suggest soaking the quinoa but, in my experience, this isn't necessary.
3. Dry and toast quinoa in saucepan (optional step for a nutty flavor).
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the drained quinoa. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, letting the water evaporate.
4. Add liquid and bring to a boil.
Stir in the liquid and the salt (if using) and bring to a rolling boil.
5. Lower heat and cook covered for 15 minutes.
Turn heat down to the lowest setting. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
6. Let stand covered for 5 minutes.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Let stand for 5 minutes, covered.
7. Fluff and eat!
After 5 minutes, remove the lid, fluff the quinoa gently with a fork, and serve. (You should see tiny spirals (the germ) separating from and curling around the quinoa seeds.)
Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad.
- Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
- For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa.
- Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
- Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups, or stews.
- Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.
- Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat