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Good for you Grains--Chap1. QUINOA.
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Good for you Grains--Chap1. QUINOA.

Quinoa.  Oh, how I love thee.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa), is a wheat and gluten free grain (ok, technically a seed, but is so grainlike we are including in the grain group) from the Andes Mountains of South America.  Quinoa was one of the three staple foods of the Inca civilization.  The other two were corn and potatoes.  Quinoa was known then, as it still is today, as the Mother Grain.

Quinoa is a complete protein.  Unlike other grains that need to be combined with other foods to form complete and balanced protein, quiona can stand alone as a high quality protein food.  It contains anywhere from 14-20% protein.  Its protein is high in the amino acids lysine, methionine, and cystine.  It is also a rich and balanced source of other vital nutrients, providing starch, sugars, oil (high in essential linoleic acid), fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  

It is also easy to cook, ready in about 15-20 minutes.  Quinoa has a nutty, slightly chewy texture, but is still light and tasty.  Versatility is a plus!  Quinoa can be substituted for almost any grain in almost any recipe, from salads to soups to pilafs.

Ok, Peek, you might be saying.  Sold!  But where in the heck can I find it?

Good question.  It can be hard to find.  It is often found in the bulk bins, with the other weird and strange grains, in stores that carry more naturally oriented foods.  It is also marketed by a company called Ancient Harvest, and can be found with some of the vegetarian foods.  If you can’t find it, ask for it.  Some stores don’t know what the heck it is and might just put it somewhere random.

Anything special to know about quinoa?

Yes.  If you buy it in bulk, be SURE to pre-rinse it.  It can have a bitter natural coating that should be rinsed off prior to using.  Put it in a pot with cold water, swish it around very well, and drain.  Repeat.  Then you can use it.  If you buy it in a box, be sure the box says PRE-RINSED.  If it does, no need to rinse.

How do I cook it?

Here’s the basic recipe.
2 cups water (I use broth)
1 cup quinoa
Place quinoa and water in a 1-1/2 qt saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook (do not peek) for 15-20 min or until all the water has been absorbed.  You’ll know its done b/c the tiny seeds will have turned translucent, and will have a distinct ring shape to each one.

More variations and recipes to follow below.
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172023_tn?1334675884
Here's my take on the basic recipe for cooking quinoa.  I make a big containerful each week..it will keep for about 3 days in the fridge.

2 cups any type of broth (can use lower sodium if you need to for health reasons)
1 cup quinoa
pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp of poultry seasoning
1 T of minced garlic (or a couple cloves of minced garlic)
1 T of dried parsley (or use fresh)
1 tsp or so of dried oregano

Combine all of the above, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 min, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa looks like little translucent rings.

I keep it in the fridge, and add a nice scoop to salads, sometimes I'll add cooked, diced chicken to it and put it in a wrap, sometimes add a cooked and chopped veggie burgur to it, you can add a scoop to any soup, use instead of cooked rice in any recipe...the possibilities are endless.

COCONUT CURRY QUINOA STEW

2 T. olive oil
1 med leek
1 small zucchini, winter squash, or carrots
2 celery stalks
1/2 sm yellow pepper
2 tsps curry
2 tsps cumin
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
1 cinnamon stick
2/3 cup cooked kidney beans
1/2 cup light coconut milk
fresh parsely or cilantro.

Cut up veggies for a stew into medium to large pieces.  Heat a heavy bottom soup or casserole pot.  Add the oil and the leek.  When the leek is shiny, begin mixing in the remaining veggies.  Mix ground spices into the veggies.  Mix the quinoa into the vegetables, and then add water, salt, cinnamon, beans, and the coconut milk.  Cover and simmer until the quinoa absorbs the liquid and the veggies are soft.  Remove the cinnamon stick and garnish with the fresh parsley or cilantro.  
Serves 4.

LEMON QUINOA PILAF

1 cup quinoa
2 cups boiling water or broth
1 T lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
1/8 tsp tumeric or saffron

Place all ingredients in a casserole dish.  Cover and bake at 350-400 deg until all liquid is absorbed.
serves 4.

MEXICAN QUINOA WITH PINTO BEANS

3 cups sliced bell pepper and onions, mixed
3-4 cups cooked pinto beans
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups sweet corn
4-6 cloves of minced garlic
2 T chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 cups water or broth

Pour peppers and onions into a large skillet and saute in a small amt of oil.  Add herbs and spices; saute for another minute or two.  Add all other ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover loosely, and simmer for 20 minutes or so.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for another 10 min.  Serves 6.

QUINOA WITH SUN DRIED TOMATOES

6 sun dried tomatoes, diced
1 shallot (or 1/2 small onion), minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups water or broth
2 T chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
olive oil

In a med saucepan, saute tomatoes, onion, and garlic in olive oil over med heat for 3-5 min or until onions are softened.  Add water or broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 min or until liquid is absorbed.  Let sit for 5 minutes, fluff grains with a fork, stir in fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Serves 4.

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172023_tn?1334675884
QUINOA STUFFING

2 cups uncooked quinoa
4 cups water or broth
1/4 cup olive oil
2 sm zucchini, cut into 1 in. cubes
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon (for juice)

Bring the water or broth  and quinoa to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 min or until quinoa absorbs liquid.  Remove from heat and let cool.
Saute zucchini and squash in a skillet with the olive oil until slightly browned.  Add quinoa to the veggies.  Stir in the onions, apricots, cranberries, and parsley.  Add lemon juice to taste.
This can now be used to stuff a turkey, or served as a side dish.

QUINOA RISOTTO WITH VEGETABLES.

3 T olive oil
3 T butter or margarine
1 sm onion, diced
1/4 cup white wine, optional.
1-1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
5-8 cups broth
1-1/2 cups vegetables (peas, asparagus, green beans, roasted red peppers, etc)
1/2 cup romano cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parsley, chopped for garnish
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat broth in a saucepan and keep covered adn warm.
Heat a large heavy skillet over med. heat.  Add olive oil and have the butter (or marg).  When butter is just melted, add onions and saute for 5 min.  Add quinoa and stir to coat well. Add wine and allow it to be absorbed.  Add enough warm broth to just cover the quinoa.  In 5 min, add more warm broth to keep the quinoa covered.  Add veggies at this time.  Do not cover the pan, but keep adding warm broth while cooking, to continue keeping the quinoa covered.  This takes approx 20-25 min, until quinoa is tender and translucent.  Add remaining butter (or marg) and romano cheese, and stir in well.

Remove from heat, garnish with parsley, and serve with Parm cheese.  
Serves 6.

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