Monday, August 8, 2011

Trying Something New, Food Edition: Quinoa


(don't pronounce it phonetically, like i did for the longest time - apparently it's "KEEN-wa")

I've heard a lot about it, particularly on Spark People. People go crazy over this food. "It's amazingly delicious, it incredibly healthy, it's a SUPERFOOD!"

Well, i made up my mind to try it. I had to really hunt for it - up where i live, none of the big stores have it - even in their natural food section. There is a natural food store in town, but i get uncomfortable going in there - they watch you hawkishly while you browse, and if you enlist their help with finding something, you MUST buy it immediately, or suffer their disappointed scowls (don't even think about going in just to check availability/price on something!).

Anyway, I finally found it in a bulk bin at Superstore when i was in Lethbridge visiting family. I only bought two cups worth, didn't weigh it myself, and forgot to check my receipt afterwards, so i have no idea whether or not it was expensive - it was more expensive than the rice, i know that. But i was curious, and wanted to try it.

It naturally produces a bitter outer coating (to protect itself against animals) which has to be rinsed off before you can eat it. Tip: since the grain is so small, i lined my colander with a paper towel - it kept all the quinoa contained while i rinsed it. 

There are so many ways to cook quinoa - the recipes i researched had it used in a dinner meal in place of rice, so that's how i prepared mine.

I cooked 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of chicken broth, and tossed it with a stir-fry of chicken, bell peppers (all colors!), onions, and garlic. it was incredible! I am an official convert. Even my boys loved it (though i must admit i am blessed with relatively adventurous boys). 

Here's a little more about this seed from Canadian Living:

"Regarded as a sacred food by the Incas, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals. This supergrain seed contains more protein than most cereal grains (22 grams per one cup/250 millilitres uncooked quinoa) and is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight of the essential amino acids we need for tissue development.
Quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc, and lower in sodium compared with wheat, barley and corn. This gluten-free grain also receives an honourable mention for being low in saturated fat (one gram of fat per one cup/250 millilitres uncooked quinoa).
Dietary uses: Quinoa can be substituted for most hot cereals and is a good replacement for rice. Cook it like porridge, include it in casseroles or stews, or add it (steamed, toasted or baked) to soups, salads or desserts. You can also use ground quinoa in breads, cookies, puddings, muffins and pasta. It's available in most grocery and health food stores."
(from "Top Ten Superfoods: Goji Berries, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and more")

I have one more cup of it left, and i think i might try it in a sweet breakfast recipe...

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