Have you discovered Quinoa yet? Maybe you have heard of it but haven’t been brave enough to try it. Perhaps you picked up a bag on your last trip to the health food store thinking you would like to try something new and it is now sitting in your pantry where it mocks you every time you open the door. Whatever your experience with quinoa may be I assure you, this tiny whole grain is worth spending some time experimenting with.
Organic quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah not quin-O-a as I once assumed) is a tiny little seed that packs a huge punch when it comes to nutrition. It contains nine essential amino acids, officially making it a complete protein, has a low glycemic index (no spikes in blood sugar, yay!), is gluten free, and is loaded with plant-based protein. One-third of a cup of cooked quinoa contains six grams of protein, three grams of fiber and only two and a half grams of fat. Best of all, it is almost always grown organically so finding a NON GMO source is not often as challenging as it can be with other whole grains.
Now for the big question; how do you prepare this stuff so your family will actually eat it? To be honest, it wasn’t a huge hit with my little ones the first time they tried it. Since then, I have learned a few tricks to make it more palatable to little taste buds. Now, my three old says, “This is my favorite food!” when he sees it on his plate at dinner and seconds are typically served. Happy kids at the dinner table makes this momma’s evening so much more enjoyable!
The first thing I learned is that toasting quinoa makes a world of difference. Simply measure out the amount you plan to prepare, place it in a shallow baking dish (I use a cake pan) making sure it is spread out evenly, and pop it in a three hundred degree oven for about 10 minutes or until it begins to brown. Then cook it as you would rice with a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid. I say liquid because quinoa will take on the flavor of whatever it is cooked in. Try cooking it in vegetable, chicken, or beef stock and mixing it with vegetables for a tasty side dish. Add chicken or beef for a main course and watch it disappear!
Quinoa can be served hot or cold, as a side or main dish, made sweet or savory, and is a great source of protein for any time of day. In fact, it is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast. Here is an easy quinoa breakfast recipe that can be made the night before and reheated or eaten cold in the morning making it a great weekday option for those of us with busy mornings.