Quinoa 101

April 22, 2013

Still haven’t tried quinoa? Here is your quick reference guide

What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (keen-wah) is a seed of a relative of spinach and is considered a 100 percent whole grain like brown rice or barley; has a perfect balance of nutrients and proteins.
How to Buy:
Available in brown, red or white, and mostly in organic varieties. Best value is bulk versus packaged, but always read price per lb.
How to Read Labels:
Buy in bulk where possible; check package labels for organic/non-organic source and whether it’s only quinoa or other added grains for quinoa “pilaf.”
How to Use:
Cook like rice or barley; cover with water or vegetable broth and boil until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes; may also be used in a rice cooker with 1 part quinoa and 2 parts liquid. Use cold or room temperature in salads or hot as a cereal, side dish, plain, or with vegetables. Excellent for gluten-free diets. Use as you would any grain, but note that taste is mild and lightly nutty. Goes well with either fruits or vegetables and with other grains for a heartier flavor.
How to Store:
Quinoa is best stored in tight-fitting container in a cool, dry cupboard.
Health Benefits:
Quinoa is a complete protein (12-18 percent protein) plus all 9 amino acids, including lysine which helps the body process protein, and is equivalent or superior to protein in dairy products. Also has niacin, thiamin and B6, high levels of potassium and riboflavin; good source of zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, folic acid, and vitamin E. One third cup of cooked quinoa has 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein.
Smarter Shopping:  
If new to quinoa, choose red for heartier flavor.
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