What is Quinoa?
Though it’s often referred to as a whole grain (or sometimes, due to it’s health benefits, a “Super-Grain”), Quinoa is actually the seeds of a leafy green South American plant of the same name. It was traditionally cultivated and held in high esteem by the ancient Aztecs, for it’s rich source of energy. This tradition continues today, with chefs lauding not only it’s mild taste and texture, but some of it’s amazing health benefits. Some of which include:
1. A full compliment of amino acids, and very high in protein, making this an essential supplement to a vegetarian diet.
2. Rich in manganese which helps keep bones strong and healthy and maintain normal blood sugar levels.
3. High in fiber and contains niacin, both of which have been proven to lower and control high cholesterol, and aid in digestion.
4. Easy to prepare, and can be used in any recipe or meal that calls for white rice or couscous, as a coating for grilled chicken or fish, can even be made in the rice cooker!
5. Gluten-free and easy to digest.
How do I use Quinoa?
Quinoa can be used as a healthy substitute for the starch portion of any meal. Great in place of white rice, couscous, or even as a coating for grilled meats, chicken and fish. You can even prepare Quinoa in the rice maker!
In addition to the health benefits listed above, unlike many other sources of carbohydrates, Quinoa has a low Glycemic Index (GI), meaning they don’t make your blood sugar jump like potatoes and breads do. This helps keep your blood sugar balanced, which in turn helps with wait loss and cholesterol.
One more thing, the skin of Quinoa contains a natural compound that can make it taste quite bitter. Be sure to rinse your quinoa thoroughly before eating.
While not as necessary as rinsing, toasting your Quinoa for 15 minutes comes highly recommended. After rinsing, place Quinoa in a frying pan over medium heat and shake for about 15 minutes. Toasted Quinoa can be stored for up to a month in a sealed jar. Quinoa Greek Salad – Light, healthy & very very good!
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup red peppers, diced
- 1/2 cup green peppers, diced
- 1/2 cup cucumbers, diced
- 1/4 cup green onions, diced
- 1/4 cup black olives
- 1/4 cup red onions, diced
- 3 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- In a saucepan, bring stock to a boil.
- Stir in quinoa.
- Reduce heat to med low and cover.
- Cook 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
- Transfer to a large bowl and cool.
- Stir veggies and cheese into cooled quinoa.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients & toss
Spanish Quinoa – a super-grain variation on Spanish Rice.
- 1 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onions, diced
- 1 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup quinoa, washed and drained
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Drain tomatoes and reserve juice.
- Heat oil and saute garlic and onions until translucent.
- Place the tomato juice in a liquid measuring cup and add enough water to equal 1 cup of liquid.
- Add the liquid to the sauteed garlic and onions; bring to a boil.
- Stir in the quinoa, pepper, and salt.
- Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
- Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin; cook another 2-4 minutes until hot.
Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers – A taste for kids, responsible enough for adults.
- 2 pound chicken tenders or skinless boneless breasts, sliced into 3-inch long tenders
- 2 cups cooked red or white quinoa
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup whole wheat or seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Spread out the quinoa on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the quinoa. With your fingers tips, squeeze the quinoa and breadcrumbs together until the moisture of the quinoa is absorbed Place the egg whites in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, garlic powder, pepper, and paprika.
Place the egg whites in a shallow bowl. Dip the chicken in the egg and then into the quinoa mixture. Place onto a plate. Warm the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and reduce the heat to medium. Cook each side 4-5 minutes, turning once, until the crust begins to brown, and the chicken is not longer translucent.
Transfer fingers to a plate and serve immediately.Quinoa Muffins – something for the baker.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower, plus more
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- vegetable oil, for pan
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup currant berries
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes.
- Meanwhile, brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with oil; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, raisins, cinnamon (optional), and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, egg, and vanilla.
- Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups.
- Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.