Botanically speaking, quinoa is a relative of spinach, beets, and chard. The part we eat is actually the seed, cooked like rice, which is why quinoa is gluten-free. (It’s pronounced KEEN-wah; you don’t pronouce the‘O’.) A great advantage to cooking quinoa vs. brown rice is that it takes only 15 minutes vs. 50 minutes for brown rice!
One of the best things about quinoa is that it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which cannot be made by the body and therefore must come from food. This type of complete protein is rarely found in plant foods.
Types of Quinoa
There are about 120 varieties of quinoa but the most readily available types are white, red, and black quinoa. They are all nutritionally similar. Oryana sells white, red, and multicolored quinoa.
Quinoa has a natural coating on it called saponin, which tastes bitter and needs to be rinsed off. However, most quinoa these days is prerinsed so this step is not necessary.
When you cook quinoa, the cooking process releases what looks like a little curly tail coming from the seed. That’s just the germ of the seed, which separates slightly when the quinoa is fully cooked.
Basic directions for cooking quinoa:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or broth
pinch sea salt
- Bring quinoa, sea salt, and water to a boil in a saucepan, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork before serving. 1 cup of dry quinoa will make 3 cups of cooked quinoa!
If you want to take it one step further and soak your quinoa before cooking it (recommended to improve digestibility and nutrition) here’s how:
Basic Soaked Quinoa
2 cups quinoa
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons of yogurt, whey, kefir, or kombucha
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
- In a glass or non-reactive bowl, place the quinoa and warm water and 2 tablespoons of the live cultured, acidic addition. Cover and place in a warm spot for 12 – 24 hours. Strain quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse until the water runs clear.
- Add to a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and salt.Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes.
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