Quinoa (pronounced KEEN - wah) has become a hot commodity the past few months according to a National Restaurant Association survey.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is not technically a grain, but the seed of a large plant called Chenoposium quinoa or Goosefoot plant. Quinoa is available in many colors (ivory, pink, red, white, brown, black) and forms (grains, flakes, cereals, pastas).
From a health perspective, quinoa is unique because it is a plant that supplies essential amino acids and can be classified as a "complete protein". Most plant proteins are incomplete and must be paired (such as red beans with rice) to form a complete protein. The USDA Nutrition Data gives quinoa a protein score of 106. A protein score greater than 100 indicates a complete or high quality protein.
A 1 cup serving of cooked quinoa provides:
4 grams of fat
8 grams of protein
5 grams of fiber
13 milligrams of sodium
How to add quinoa to foods
Wash the quinoa seeds prior to cooking to remove a bitter resin-like coating called saponin. The saponin will produce soapy looking "suds: when you rinse the seeds.
There are many options for adding quinoa to your diet. Here are just a few: You
can add cooked quinoa to casseroles, soups, and stews. Seeds typically cook in ~15 minutes. You can use quinoa in dishes as you would barley or brown rice. Toast the quinoa seeds on a pan in the oven or "sprout" the quinoa seeds and eat raw as a snack or in salads.
Due to the oil in quinoa, it should be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator and used within 3 months.
Also, for those dealing with a gluten-intolerance, quinoa is a great option because it is gluten free.