Quinoa was cultivated and originated in the Andean region of South America over 6,000 years ago. It was sacred to the Incan culture, and referred to by them as "chisaya mama" or "mother of all grains." Secondly to the potato, quinoa was a nutritional staple to the pre-Columbian Andean civilizations.
Today, quinoa is a tremendously healthy choice for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, as its protein content is typically in the range of 12%-18% per serving. Unlike wheat or rice, this gluten-free product is packed full of a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it an unusually complete source of protein. Along with that, it's full of dietary fiber, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. Basically, it's a super food!
Before you can eat it though, you need to learn how to say it: KEEN-wah. Try it, KEEN-wah.
Now that you can pronounce it correctly, it's SUPER easy to cook! It's just like cooking rice, 2:1. Two cups of stock (chicken, vegetable, beef) to one cup of quinoa. Bring the stock to a boil, put the quinoa in, cook with the heat on for 5 minutes then turn the stove off and let it sit until tender. It's not available in ALL grocery stores, but your health food stores and high end grocery stores are sure to have it in stock. Make sure that you thoroughly rinse it off before you cook it, otherwise the it will be very bitter.
It's absolutely delicious! I visited a restaurant on Miami Beach the other day and had a 'Super Food' salad. It was chickpeas, edamame, golden raisins, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and a HUGE scoop of warm quinoa on top, over a bed of spinach. Top it off with a carrot ginger dressing and it was absolutely delicious!!!!! I would not have expected it to be so satisfying on a salad!
This is a versatile grain that can be used as a side dish or as a main course. Brian and I experimented with the below recipe that my friend from Peru gave me-it's a staple in her country. It was absolutely delicious! I served it as our main course, with a salad! I hope that you will try it!! I guarantee that you'll LOVE it!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup skim milk
- 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Rinse and drain quinoa three times, using a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter outer coating. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat and saute the mushrooms-remove from pan. Add more olive oil and onion-cook until soft, stirring constantly. Add garlic and quinoa and continue stirring a minute or two. Stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 10-12 minutes. Add the mushrooms back in and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add cheese and let stand a few minutes, so quinoa can thicken.