Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quinoa - the almost-perfect food!

Quinoa_Grain_250.jpgQUINOA!!! Have you ever heard of it? Its pronounced KEEN-WAH and is an "ancient" grain that was used by the Incas...its actually the seed of a leafy plant, a plant related to spinach. Quinoa is unique because you can use it like a grain, grind it into flour and use it in baking. It has a nutty flavor and is a source of ALL essential amino acids. Its protein content is 12-18% and it is wheat and gluten-free. This is a 100% whole grain and I often use it like I would rice. Quinoa is covered with saponins - saponins are a "plant's natural immune system, a natural antibiotic that protects the plant against harmful microbes and fungus (and insects)". I found this statement and some other great info about quinoa HERE.

When I cook it like rice, I soak it overnight...this removes the saponins from the outside of it. If you cannnot soak it overnight, you can get by with soaking it for a half hour or so. Then you want to rinse it well (a strainer with VERY small holes will be needed! I've used a gravy strainer with best results).

THEN, I put it in a pan with twice the amount of liquid as quinoa (so 1 cup quinoa = 2 cups liquid). I typically use chicken broth to give it an even yummier taste! Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let it sit with the cover on for about 5 minutes, then fluff with fork! YUM!!! You can eat it plain as a side dish or in any recipe that calls for couscous or rice!!!

Here's one of our favorite quinoa recipes - its very yummy and I found it HERE.

Crockpot Chicken and Quinoa

1 cup quinoa (soaked overnight in water, than drained and rinsed in a strainer. If you don’t soak your grains still rinse to remove a bitter substance from the grain)
2 cups of chicken broth
1/2-3/4 cup of white wine (amount depending on your taste and wine used)
2 cups of water
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon of salt
4-6 carrots, peeled and cubed
3 celery, sliced
1 onion, minced
2 chicken breasts or thighs
3 Tablespoons of butter (opt, for added richness and flavor)

Mushrooms - optional

Throw all the ingredients in your crockpot, cook on high, 4 hours or on low, 8. Shred the chicken when done, and stir into the stew and you are done! You can easily adapt by using different herbs, more meat/less meat, etc.

When you cook QUINOA, it will look like this (little spirals come loose from the grain):


We've also enjoyed Quinoa Pasta from HERE. You can find quinoa products at your local health food store or at online stores such as Azure Standard.

So my advice - try it, you might like it!!! (actually, you probably will!)

1 comment:

Karen Joy said...

Hi Melissa! I don't know if you remember me from Nykerk or not, but Sharon Konopka Bradford told me about your blog, so that's why you have a new "follower". :o) What a great blog! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge and recipes! I'll definitely be checking it out more often and trying some of the recipes out. I hope you are doing well. You have a beautiful family! Blessings, Karen (Olson) Benson