All About Quinoa & How to Cook It
|By Nell Jones - daughter, writer,
Quinoa is a seed native to Peru that was once considered “the mother grain” by the Incans and is now considered a “superfood” by most health conscious people. It became popular in the last decade because of its role as a healthier carb.
Its gluten free grain property makes it a good substitute for things like rice and other kinds of pasta. My favorite characteristic of quinoa is that it can be used in almost every meal, helping you achieve a healthy, wholesome diet.
How Nutritious is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a source of fiber, iron, different vitamins, and most of all, protein. A cup of quinoa has eight grams of protein, full of all the amino acids.
Quinoa is a good substitute for rice because while both have the gluten free properties, quinoa has many more antioxidants. The fiber levels in quinoa are also beneficial since they assist digestion in which case also lowers cholesterol.
One cup of quinoa contains about 20% of the recommended daily fiber intake.
The Easier Carb
Not only is quinoa incredibly nutritious and better for you, it is also just more convenient to make and keep. I like quinoa because of how fast it cooks. Total time to prepare is at least fifteen minutes, which is way shorter than its alternative, rice.
I can easily make time in my busy college schedule to cook quinoa, and I do. It also stores better than most other grains.
It doesn’t dry out and still tastes fresh after a few days in the fridge. This is perfect for when I want to make a large serving at the beginning of the week and keep it in my fridge for when I use it for meals.
How To Cook Quinoa
It is important to rinse the quinoa before you cook it because the seeds are coated with natural chemicals that protect the plant from different diseases and bacteria. This coating has a bitter taste, which is why it is important to run the quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear before you cook it.
You want to cook the quinoa in a two to one ratio with water. So, for 1 cup of quinoa, use 2 cups of water. Put the water and quinoa in a medium pot and heat on medium to high until it is just about to boil and then add a pinch of salt.
Once it boils, reduce the heat to simmer until all the water is absorbed, which should take about fifteen minutes.
After the water is absorbed, set the quinoa aside for about five minutes and cover it. Covering it at the end instead of when it is cooking helps to avoid the mushy result that you can sometimes get when cooking quinoa.
At this point, fluff it with a fork and it is ready to serve or can be put aside in the refrigerator later use.
My Favorite Quinoa Meal
I love to include quinoa in my meals because I notice that it fills me up fast and keeps me full for a while. While quinoa can be incorporated in a wide array of meals, my favorite quinoa-filled meal is breakfast.
As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and quinoa a great way to be full and energized early in the morning. One of my favorite eateries at school makes these breakfast “scrambles” with quinoa.
I find that it serves more as a brunch because it fills me up for most of the day, which is important when I have a packed schedule of classes and studying up until dinner time. I’ve mimicked the meal at home to save money on a college budget. And it’s easy to make!
Usually I prepare the quinoa at the beginning of the week so that I can store it in my fridge and use when I need it. With this recipe you can include a lot of leftovers that you might have stored away in your fridge, like vegetables from the night before.
In the recipe linked below, I like to exchange rice for quinoa because of the extra nutrients the quinoa gives.
Other Quinoa Recipes
While breakfast quinoa is my favorite, there are a ton of ways to prepare quinoa and benefit from the nutrients as well as delicious meals with carbs that you won’t feel guilty about. Below are some other ways to prepare quinoa, for lunch and dinner.