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Get to Know: Quinoa

Let’s explore the world of special ingredients together! We’ll do the research and make some mistakes in the kitchen so you don’t have to. Today, experiment with quinoa, an ancient seed that’s been making waves as a modern superfood.

What looks and tastes like a whole grain but is actually a seed that’s a complete source of protein as it has all the essential amino acids plus an exotic name to boot? It’s quinoa! 

Pronounced “keen-wah” and cultivated by the Incas, quinoa is usually grouped with grains in terms of nutrition and placement in the supermarket, but it’s actually a seed.

Read on to learn more about its benefits and how easy it is to cook.

Lemon-Coriander Quinoa

Quinoa with Roasted Veggies

Quinoa Explained

Native to South America, the first cultivation of quinoa is traced back to the Incas 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. –who relied on the seed for energy and nutrition during droughts and other severe weather since it can survive at high altitudes and requires very little water to grow.

Health enthusiasts “discovered” quinoa in the 1970s and it has gained immense popularity in the last ten years.

White and red quinoa are the most common types found in grocery stores, both with similar tastes and textures, and there are also green, black and orange varieties among many others.

One cup of cooked quinoa provides a good source of nutrients: 8 grams filling protein and just over five grams of fiber for 220 calories. (That’s about double the protein of one cup cooked brown rice, which has about the same calorie count).

It also contains all the essential amino acids and is naturally gluten-free.

Enjoy Quinoa

The seeds have a slightly bitter outer coating, which can be removed by rinsing the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before cooking.

You can cook quinoa as you would brown rice: place 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water or broth in a covered saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. The grains will turn translucent when they are cooked through and the germ extends out of the seed in a little coil.

Quinoa has a mild nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture and goes well with most savory additions like cooked vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, fresh herbs and warm spices.   

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies

Explore More

Quinoa can be used as an addition to soups, tossed into hot or cold salads, as a side dish to meats or vegetarian entrees, or in place of rice alongside curries and stews.

Also try heating quinoa in dry, covered skillet over medium-high heat for a popped treat that’s perfect sprinkled over soups and salads.

Check out some of our recipes with quinoa here:

Let us know how you like to prepare quinoa. Do you prefer to use it in savory or sweet foods?