My Love Affair with Quinoa

I LOVE Quinoa!

I was first introduced to it at a dinner party by one of my classmates from my naturopathic medical training.  It was the fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture of the quinoa that won me over immediately!  Soon after my first introduction to this fabulous “grain” I began incorporating it into my own cooking and was thrilled to learn about all the nutrients and numerous health benefits I was gaining from eating this delicious food.

Most commonly considered a “grain,” quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.  Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) food.  It also supplies complete protein, meaning it includes all nine essential amino acids which makes it an especially good choice for vegetarians or vegans to ensure adequate protein intake.

Quinoa is especially rich with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this “grain” may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes, atherosclerosis, antioxidant, menopausal, asthma, cancer and much more.   In addition, quinoa is gluten free; thus, it is one of the least allergenic “grains.”

Nutrient Breakdown

Quinoa: uncooked 0.25 cup, 158.95 calories

Nutrient

Amount

Recommended

Daily Value
(%)

Nutrient
Foods Rating

manganese

0.96 mg

48.0

very good

magnesium

89.25 mg

22.3

good

iron

3.93 mg

21.8

good

tryptophan

0.06 g

18.8

good

copper

0.35 mg

17.5

good

phosphorus

174.25 mg

17.4

good

Macro Nutrient Comparison to Other Grains (as a percentage)

Nutritional Value (%)

Protein Fat Carbohydrate Fibre
Wheat 8.9 2.2 66.8 2.1
Barley 10.0 1.5 66.4 4.5
Oats 10.3 4.7 62.1 9.3
Rye 12.4 1.3. 71.7 2.3
Brown rice 9.7 2.4 73.2 1.1
QUINOA **13.1 5.3 55.7 4.9

Tips for Preparing Quinoa

  1. It is always a good idea to thoroughly wash the seeds.
  2. To wash quinoa, place it in stainless steel strainer, run cold water over the quinoa and gently rub the seeds together with your hands.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. If you desire the quinoa to have a nuttier flavor, you can dry roast it before cooking; to dry roast, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir constantly for five minutes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  1. Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad.
  2. Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
  3. For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa.
  4. Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
  5. Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups.
  6. Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.
  7. Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat.

Tasty Quinoa Recipes

Meatless Quinoa Burgers

2 cups cooked Quinoa
1 onion chopped
1 carrot grated
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tablespoon onion soup mix or preferred seasonings
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 finely chopped celery stick
1 egg (beaten) – This makes a firmer burger
  1. Mix above ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Form burger with wet hands (patties are about 4 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick).
  3. Lightly oil frying pan.
  4. Cook about 5 minutes each side until golden brown.

Variations:

  • 1/2 cup cooked and finely chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

Quinoa Pilaf

1 cup Quinoa
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 tsp minced garlic
1 lb fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups water or low-salt chicken broth
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
3 tbsp minced parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil.
  2. Add onions, celery, garlic and mushrooms.
  3. Sauté for three or four minutes until slightly browned.
  4. Add Quinoa and stir for a minute or two to coat with oil.
  5. Add water or broth, cover and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
  8. Serve immediately.

Make 4 – 6 servings

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 large Bell Peppers
1 cup Quinoa
5 cups Vegetable Broth
6-8 Sun dried Roma Tomatoes
1 medium onion
1 cup Buckwheat Groats
3-4 Garlic cloves
Rosemary, Basil, Oregano to taste
1 cup Tomato Puree
1 egg white or egg substitute
  1. Rinse Quinoa well and set aside to drain.
  2. Chop onion, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes and set aside.
  3. Cut tops off of bell peppers, rinse the bodies clear of seeds. Trim the seedpod off the tops and save the tops.
  4. Heat 2 cups of broth to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Once broth has reached a boil dump in the Quinoa and sun dried tomatoes. Cover and bring flame down to simmer for 12 minutes.
  5. Add 1 cup of buckwheat groats to 1 egg white (or egg substitute) and mix until groats are coated.
  6. Turn mixture into a dry frying pan and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes stirring well to keep groats separated. After 2-3 minutes add a cup and a half of broth, onion, garlic and other spices.
  7. Cover and bring flame down to a simmer for 0-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Take Quinoa from stove and drain, saving vegetable stock (you’ll need it in a minute).
  9. Place Quinoa in a bowl and add the buckwheat groats once they have finished.
  10. Add 1 cup of tomato puree your favorite tomato sauce and mix well.
  11. Once mixed, spoon liberally into bell peppers and put pepper tops back on.
  12. Take left over broth and put into large pot with steamer tray.
  13. Add broth or water until water just touches bottom of steamer rack and place Peppers into pot.
  14. Secure lid and place on stove.
  15. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 20-30 minutes, until peppers are very soft.
  16. Serve.

Nutty Green Quinoa

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water
¼ to ½ tsp salt
½ cup almonds
1 bunch parsley
1 clove garlic
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
½ cucumber
Pepper to taste
  1. Bring water to a boil, add quinoa and salt; stir and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let sit for another 10 minutes; then remove cover and allow to cool.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, blend almonds, parsley, garlic, and oil in a food processor.
  4. When quinoa is cool, stir with nut mixture and add pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with cucumber if desired.

11 thoughts on “My Love Affair with Quinoa

  1. Thanks! I’ve been avoiding quinoa because of my no-grain diet. Oddly enough, none of my food/health books mention quinoa outside of the grain family. I’m going to pick some up today!

  2. Hi Dena,

    Check out the bulk barn, they carry organic quinoa for a good price! Also, I find that soaking the quinoa over night before cooking it makes the quinoa easier for digestion.

    Enjoy!

  3. I have heard that the coating on the grain that you rinse off before cooking is actually a natural pesticide and so most quinoa is naturally pesticide free??? Perhaps not always advertised as such but the specified organic is likely more.
    IT is not cheap…I bought a bulk bag from bulk barn for $250.00…I am SO happy then to be able to try some new recipes with it!

  4. I just made the pilaf for dinner tonight (my first time using quinoa) and it was so good! Even my 3 year old couldn’t get enough of it. Thanks for the recipes!

  5. Melanie,
    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you took the opportunity to experiment with quinoa. I’ve introduced quinoa to many of my patients and family/friends and everyone really enjoys it. It has such a great texture, and it can be incorporated into any meal, even breakfast – it’s also a great alternative to oatmeal or cereal in the mornings. I usually cook a pot full at the beginning of the week and then keep it in the fridge. For breakfast I’ll take about ¾ of a cup of quinoa, heat it up in my toaster oven, and add some warm almond milk, some nuts and some fresh fruit. It’s really satisfying and warms me up during the cold winter mornings. I encourage you to continue enjoying and experimenting with quinoa!

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  8. Ok should this haeppn, no.Why did it haeppn, the guy’s ex boss had a grudge and thought he could land him in trouble. Throw on top of that the heat the intelligence agencies (rightly) copped for missing 9/11 & the boston bombers. So now they follow up every single damn petty moan. Lets’s be honest, while it is insane to upset law abiding citizens and place them under implied arrest (blocking in the car and surrounding the house) would you want to be the agent that said nah lets leave this one, sounds harmless’.They would not have been questioned if the boss had not raised suspicion. We really do need to look at how we treat citizens, but we also need to deal with the curtain twitchers who malicously start crap like this.

  9. I’m thinking it might be easy to make these into a sweeter cracker, rather than savory. I was thinking of using a bit of honey and some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger as flavoring. I’m always looking for something to give my kids as a treat that is grain free. Convenience foods for toddlers are awful and i’m trying so hard to make everything myself nowadays. If only i could get my daughter to eat anything! I’ll experiment and post back on a sweet “cracker”.

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