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Quinoa A Grain Everyone Should Try

On the shelves of the supermarket you may have seen an odd looking grain with a funny name. Chances are you've seen a box of Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah. It is not a common grain that you will find in most kitchens today, but maybe it should be. quinoa has been hailed as the "super grain of the future" because it contains more protein than any other grain. It's called a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids.

TEXARKANA, Ark. –

Quinoa, A Grain Everyone Should Try

On the shelves of the supermarket you may have seen an odd looking grain with a funny name. Chances are you saw a box of Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah.  It is not a common grain that you will find in most kitchens today, but maybe it should be. Quinoa has been hailed as the “super grain of the future” because it contains more protein than any other grain. It’s called a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids.

Cultivation of Quinoa originated in the upper reaches of the Andes around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago in areas that are now in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Today, Bolivia produces about 80 percent of the world supply of Quinoa.

Some refer to it as the Mother Grain, or Super Grain, even though what you’re actually eating are the plant’s seeds and not a grain itself. It’s gluten, and wheat-free, has essential amino acids, plenty of fiber, boasts a variety of vitamins and minerals, and is relatively low in carbohydrates.

Just one fourth cup serving will provide you with 158 calories, yet is considered a great source of potassium, very good source of manganese, and good sources of magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper and phosphorus. It provides 5 grams per serving of protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, and 3 grams dietary fiber.

The ivory colored tiny, bead-shaped, quinoa cooks like rice and expands to four times its original volume. Its flavor is delicate – almost bland – and has been compared to couscous. Locally, it's available packaged as a grain, and can be found in most health-food stores and some supermarkets in the baking section.

When purchasing quinoa, make sure there is no evidence of moisture. Store in an airtight container. It will keep for a longer period of time, approximately three to six months, if stored in the refrigerator.

Preparing quinoa is an easy process, but rinsing is essential. During processing, commercial cultivation removes much of the soapy saponins that coats quinoa seeds; however it is still a good idea to thoroughly wash the seeds. An effective method is to run cold water over quinoa that has been placed in a fine-meshed strainer, gently rubbing the seeds together with your hands. To ensure that the saponins have been completely removed, taste a few seeds. If  saponins are still on the quinoa, they will have a bitter taste, and continuation of the rinsing process is needed.

To cook the quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover. One cup of quinoa cooked in this method usually takes 15 minutes to prepare. When cooking is complete, you will notice that the grains have become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail.

You may not like the idea of eating it plain. Try pasta noodles made from quinoa, or add it to your favorite vegetable soups. It is also great to use in tabbouleh, a Mediterranian dish featuring bulgur wheat. Substitute quinoa for bulgur and you have a delicious (and wheat-free) dish.

For more information on healthy eating, contact the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture in the Miller County Courthouse, call 870-779-3609, e-mail me at chaley@uaex.edu, or check out our webpage at www.uaex.edu/counties/miller. You may also follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/millercountyfcs.

Southwest Quinoa is a quick, inexpensive, easy side dish that you will add to your side dish rotation. Give it a try. 

Southwest Quinoa

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

One half cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

Three fourth cup quinoa

One and one half cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon ground cumin

One fourth teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

One half cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat; sauté onion and garlic until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into onion mixture and cover with vegetable broth; season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender and broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes; mix in black beans and cilantro.

 

Yields 10 servings: Nutrition per serving 153 calories, 2g total fat, 517g sodium, 8 grams protein, 28g carbohydrates, and 8g fiber. (sodium can be drastically reduced by cooking black beans instead of using canned).

By Carla Haley Hadley M.S.
County Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley Hadley M.S.
County Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
chaley@uaex.edu

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