Nutrition Tip  
  September 2009
Quinoa  

I found this article in CLEAN EATING magazine Sept/Oct 09 issue.  It’s an interview with Tosca Reno who is the author of The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook: Great-Tasting Recipes That Keep You Lean! (2007- Robert Kennedy Publishing)And The Eat-Clean Diet for Men (2009.)  toscareno.com, eatcleandiet.com
 
Many of my OA members are discovering it.  It reminds me of tapioca for some reason.

What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (KEEN-WA) is not really a grain but the seed of the Chenopodium or goosefoot plant.  When the plant blooms and turns to seed, the quinoa can be harvested.  Thanks to its cooking characteristics, quinoa is then used in much the same way that grains are.  It cooks in little time and yields a grain-like dish.  Quinoa sees look very much like millet and come in many colors, such as red, pink, brown, black and beige.  Interestingly, quinoa has its own way of telling you when it’s properly cooked: The seed splits open and sends the germ spiraling around each grain. When it comes to cooking quinoa, it’s difficult to get it wrong.  Quinoa cooks much like couscous.  You boil it briefly to allow the grains to soak up water and then let the cooked mixture stand covered for a few minutes, then you fluff it with a fork and serve.  If you are really keen, you can eat the leaves of the quinoa plant as well (steamed or in a salad).

Why do you recommend quinoa as a good source of protein for vegetarians?
Quinoa contains substantially more protein than any other grain.  That is one reason why the United Nations refers to it as a “super crop.”  Some varieties of quinoa contain as much as 20% protein.  Compare that with other grains, such as rice, which contains only 7.5%. Additionally, the protein in quinoa is complete.  That means that every amino acid (20) appears in quinoa’s nutritional profile, with particularly high concentrations or methionine and cysteine.  I also like to combine quinoa with other grains such as oats and amaranth to increase the protein value.  The quinoa seed is also high in calcium and iron and is a relatively good source of Vitamin E and several of the B vitamins.

I made quinoa but it had a bitter flavor.  Did I do something wrong?
The bitter coating on the surface of quinoa is called saponin.  Washing or soaking the seeds before using them can easily remove saponin.  Simply place the dry, uncooked seeds in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well under cold running water.  The presence of saponin will cause soapy bubbles to appear at first, but keep rinsing and soon the bubbles will disappear as the saponin coating is washed away.  Cook as directed.

How do I cook and use Quinoa?
Quinoa can be used in stews, soups, pilafs, casseroles, stir-fries and salads.  It can also be used as a hot breakfast cereal- for those of you who are gluten intolerant, this is a godsend because quinoa is gluten free.  Quinoa seeds cook very quickly, much like couscous.  Toast the seeds before cooking for a nuttier flavor.  If you toast them long enough in a non stick pan, the seeds will pop and and voila! You have a dry breakfast cereal.  Quinoa can also be ground to make quinoa flour which can then be added to your baking.

Nutritional information:  for ¼ cup DRY (42 grams or 1.4 oz)
Cals: 163
Fat 3 grams (sat 0)
Carbs: 29g (4g fiber…36% soluble and 64% insoluble)
Protein: 6 g

 

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