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Be Keen on Quinoa!

By Alana Sugar, June 22, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
Chicken Quinoa You've heard about the goodness of whole grains: the B vitamins, the fiber, the minerals…but where can you get this good stuff besides brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat bread? Quinoa! Pronounced "KEEN-wah," the ancient Incas called it the Mother Grain and they were definitely on to something good. Quinoa, which is actually a small dried seed, has been cultivated for thousands of years in South America. This little powerhouse has the highest protein content of any other grain. And since it contains all eight essential amino acids, quinoa is considered a complete protein. It also delivers fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A and E. Quinoa's flavor is slightly nutty with a pleasing crunchy texture. In addition to tasting great, it's also very simple to cook and blends well with numerous other ingredients. It's so versatile it can be substituted for rice, pasta, couscous, bulgur or millet in just about any recipe. And it's gluten free - excellent news for anyone with a gluten allergy or sensitivity. Three Bean SaladQuinoa is the perfect summertime grain because it cooks very quickly - helping you keep the kitchen cool. Make sure to remember that rinsing quinoa is an important step. The seeds are coated with saponins, naturally-occurring plant chemicals that can cause a bit of a bitter taste. Their purpose is to keep insects from eating the plant! While most quinoa is rinsed prior to packaging, it's best to be safe and rinse it again. I like to put it in a bowl and swirl it around in water, drain in a very fine mesh strainer, and repeat a few more times, making sure the water is clear. TaboulehHere's the basics on cooking quinoa. Drain and place washed quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa. Add a pinch of sea salt, bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa looks translucent. You will see the white outer germ forming a ring around the grain. Quinoa is great in a number of dishes including salads, tabbouleh, side dishes, breakfast cereal and lots of cool summer dishes. Here are some ideas to try:
  • Toss some quinoa with cut up carrots, cucumbers and celery. Add ranch or vinaigrette dressing.
  • Use quinoa for any whole grain salad recipe. Here is a simple idea: Mix cooked quinoa with Mandarin oranges, sliced scallions and chopped red peppers. Toss with some tamari, olive oil and orange juice.
  • Cook the quinoa in vegetable or chicken broth for extra flavor.
  • Make pilaf by stir-frying your favorite veggies in olive oil and adding the cooked quinoa then season with tamari, herbs or salt and pepper. Or try this Quinoa Pilaf with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans. Stir together hot cooked quinoa with hot cooked black beans. Add some chopped jicama, salsa fresca, ground cumin and cilantro.
  • Make quinoa with pesto: Simply stir pesto into hot quinoa. If desired, top with roasted pine nuts and a grating of cheese.
  • For breakfast, cook quinoa and add chopped walnuts or almonds, dried and/or fresh fruit. My favorite: Cooked quinoa with sliced bananas and raisins, topped with chopped roasted pecans and a tsp of honey.
  • Substitute quinoa for bulgur in tabbouleh salad.
  • Got leftover steak? Slice it, add some cooked quinoa, any chopped veggies and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Throw a handful of washed quinoa into a pot of soup in place of noodles or rice.
  • I prepared this Quinoa Pilaf with Dried Cranberries and Almonds recipe and served to our customers for the grand opening of our new Annapolis store. It was a huge hit!
  • Three-Bean Salad with Quinoa is a super healthy summertime salad.
  • Quinoa Salad
  • If you enjoy chicken salad like I do, then you will love this chicken salad with grapes and quinoa.
  • This quinoa dish, primavera with chicken, peas and asparagus, is a complete meal and one I have made often.
  • This quinoa salad includes green beans and pumpkin seeds.
Quinoa makes a great substitute for rice for many favorite dishes such as chicken and rice, Spanish rice, paella, and stuffed peppers. Here's a good recipe for quinoa-stuffed peppers. Got a favorite quinoa recipe, or a great idea for how to use it? I'd love to hear.




Anette says ...
I live in Michigan and sometimes it is hard to get some of these products. Where do you think that this quinoa would be available for sale? Thank you Anette
06/22/2009 12:40:35 PM CDT
Amanda Collier says ...
We are a family of vegetarians, and have found that quinoa makes a great ground meat substitute as well. We use it in place of the ground beef in sloppy joes and tacos, and my kids love it!
06/22/2009 12:58:35 PM CDT
libby says ...
aloha: Here is my recipe supersuperb burrito sprouted wheat or multi-grain tortilla heated up to soften(pan or microwave 12 seconds)set aside chop with a cuisinart smart stick hand mixer or blender: 2 carrots, 2 celery, 1/2 purple onion, 1/2 white onion, 4-6 green onions, 4 serrano chillies, 2 anaheim chillies, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, 2 small, firm red tomatoes, green and purple cabbage about 1/4 cup each, juice from 1 lime, avocado(chop by hand, set aside in bowl,add 1/2 frozen corn (thawed)1/2 red bell pepper , toss everything into bowl with corn and avocado, add 1 more lime juice toss again). warm 1 can of Amy's black beans, 1 can of lentils, and 10 oz of cooked quinoa. Spices, oregano, cumin , garlic powder, black pepper, red chillie flakes.Mix lentils, quinoa,beans in pan keep warm optional monterey jack , feta and cheddar cheese, put bean mix on tortilla cheese on beans put into microwave open faced, allow cheese to melt add raw mix of veggies, avocado optional green or red taco sauce and fold burrito Yummy a Meal in a tortilla!
06/22/2009 1:31:38 PM CDT
Mama Mel says ...
I have a recipe for quinoa muffins! I love the extra protein you get from quinoa, and I feel better about giving my son a muffin that is also good for him. Check out my recipe at: http://mamamelloves1.blogspot.com/2009/05/quinoa-muffins.html
06/22/2009 2:26:15 PM CDT
hsiaw says ...
@Anette You should be able to find quinoa in most all of our stores. Check in w/ Guest Services of your nearest store to check on their selection. If they don't carry it in bulk or prepackaged, they can likely special order it for you. Thanks and happy eating! http://tr.im/allstore
06/22/2009 4:07:22 PM CDT
Monique says ...
@Annette - I also live in MI and get quinoa when I visit WF in Chicago or at Meijer or a health food store. There are also WF stores on the East side of the state.
06/22/2009 4:32:25 PM CDT
michael says ...
If you trouble accessing a WholeFoods where you live, you can also order quinoa in bulk from Azure Standard at this link: http://www.azurestandard.com/product.php?id=GR075
06/22/2009 7:01:39 PM CDT
Grant says ...
I cook up a batch of quinoa and store in the fridge for the week (white or a mix of red & white or andian mix) and have it cold mixed with a couple of spoons of low fat Yogurt for breakfast. add some nuts and dry fruit and/or frozen berries.
06/22/2009 8:51:10 PM CDT
Scott says ...
Quinoa is one of the world's most perfect foods. Not only is is GREAT for you, it tastes great as well. I've come to prefer it over most all grains and I actually crave it sometimes. It is very satisfying, filling and easy to make! What's not to love? I've been experimenting with using it in place of rice in recipes. Chinese fried quinoa instead of fried rice is delicious and nutritious. Leftover quinoa is great for a work lunch the next day. Just toss in leftover veggies or some protein and mix with a simple vinaigrette, and you are good to go!
06/23/2009 12:16:36 PM CDT
Mary Ellen says ...
Just wanted to say Hi Alana - and I will definitely try out some of your quinoa recipes. I have eaten it of course - but had forgotten all about it. Thanks. Mary Ellen - in Austin
06/23/2009 12:55:33 PM CDT
Gaby says ...
Quinoa taste good and it is very nutritious! At Whole Foods in Rockville, MD they have some peruvian chocolates with quinoa and kiwicha (amaranth), another super grain from South America . You can also buy those delicious chocolate at their website www.peruvianchocolate.com
06/23/2009 1:07:43 PM CDT
Brenda Coats says ...
I love quinoa. My friend made it and had me try it. I have been hooked ever since. i like to make the quinoa and add olive oit, mint, kalamata olives and green onions. its wonderful
06/23/2009 4:13:07 PM CDT
Michelle says ...
Quinoa is a great substitute for rice in many meals. My daughter (1 year) loves it plain as part of her dinner. One thing that l love about it is the higher protein content, so it is also a healthy carb for those looking to lose some weight!
06/24/2009 11:19:14 AM CDT
Clara says ...
Hi. I just went and picked up some quinoa for the first time at WF. I bought the bulk organic stuff. Could you tell me if this is already washed? I know it says most sources in the US are, but I want to double check. I will most likely rinse it anyway, but this will make the difference between rinsing and soaking.
06/24/2009 3:39:43 PM CDT
Kaye says ...
I have been using quinoa in place of rice and recently made a killer paella with it. It cooks in the same amount of time and browns in the pan nicely.
06/24/2009 6:38:00 PM CDT
Mama Mel says ...
Besides my quinoa muffin recipe (posted above), I also have a recipe for amaranth muffins. Amaranth is a seed (treated as a grain) similar to quinoa, but much smaller. Check out my recipe at: http://mamamelloves1.blogspot.com/2009/06/apple-cherry-amaranth-muffins.html
06/28/2009 9:50:01 AM CDT
Hilda says ...
I have a quick great Quinoa recipe to share. cooked quinoa rinsed/drained black beans chopped purple onion chopped/seeded roma tomatos chopped/seeded jalapenos corn either roasted or canned/drained Measurements are to your taste combine with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper all ingredients to taste.
06/30/2009 1:11:05 AM CDT
vicky says ...
Quinoa has been a life saver for me! I use it instead of regulat semolina pasta these days and I love it!
07/02/2009 12:49:41 PM CDT
Stephanie says ...
I just made my FAVORITE quinoa dish that I'd like to share: 1 eggplant, cut/sliced 2 cups cooked quinoa 16oz organic spaghetti sauce 1/2 cup fresh salsa Combine eggplant and spaghetti sauce in saucepan and cook on medium heat until hot pour in salsa and quinoa mix it all together and YUM!
03/21/2010 12:42:14 PM CDT
Erina says ...
Here's another great quinoa recipe. Seriously delicious and easy. Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a lemon vinaigrette http://wp.me/puWta-4X
07/16/2010 2:14:43 PM CDT
Kate says ...
I just had Quinoa for lunch! I wrote a recipe for Chicken Salad and Quinoa, which is featured on A Byte Of Life. I can't wait to try your other suggestions in this blog! http://abyteoflife.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/easy-lunch-chicken-salad-quinoa/
03/08/2011 4:19:02 PM CST
Ahh-nette says ...
I just love Quinoa!It has long been a favourite for health enthusiasts because it has all nine essential amino acids supplements. Check out my blog for additional quinoa recipes http://zenenterprises.wordpress.com/tag/quinoa/ Everyone has 10 minutes to get healthy. If you have time to read a blog then you can do the blog ideas and create the body of your dreams. The key is falling in love with healthy food IT’S THAT SIMPLE!.
07/14/2011 9:53:18 AM CDT
Rita says ...
What are the cooking directions for quinoa flakes? Also need to know the calorie count per serving. Do you have any recipes for quinoa flakes as a breakfast cereal? What is the serving size and calorie count for regular quinoa? Thanks!
10/10/2011 9:31:21 PM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Rita Keen quinoa questions! The instructions, calorie count and serving sizes all depend on the type of quinoa you have purchased and the meal you are preparing. Most quinoa is prepared by adding 1 portion quinoa to 2 portions of boiling water and cooking until you've reached a desired consistency. For the correct instructions on preparing the quinoa you purchased, always check the label. The same goes for the serving size and nutritional content, check the label. If you're purchasing quinoa from our bulk department, there will be nutritional information included on the bin.
10/11/2011 4:19:55 PM CDT
Krista says ...
I was going to make chicken and rice and substitute the quinoa for the rice but I don't know if I should cook the quinoa first or if I can just put it in the pan with the other ingredients. Will it still cook all of the way if I just try to cook it in the pan?
11/14/2011 9:50:47 AM CST