Quinoa is a seed from a vegetable related to spinach, chard, and beets …(Chenopodium quinoa; /ˈkiːnwɑː/ or /kɪˈnoʊ.ə/, from Quechua kinwa or kinuwa). It has been around for more than five thousand years. Inca’s called it the “Mother of all grains”, because it increased the energy or stamina of their warriors.
Quinoa is one of world’s best plant-based protein sources (8 grams per cooked cup of quinoa). It contains all 9 essential amino acids that our body needs to function properly, including lysine, which most plant-proteins lack. Lysine is essential for tissue growth and repair, strengthens immune system, and raises serotonin levels which makes us feel good.
Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. 1 cup provides a fifth of your daily need. Fibers are important for digestion and it helps to balance blood pressure and glucose levels.
Quinoa is a good source of many essential minerals, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and manganese – which people need more of. Quinoa is a good source of B vitamins. It is particularly high in riboflavin or vitamin B2, which improves brain and muscle activity.
Quinoa isn’t a grain, but it is cooked and used like a grain and it is gluten free. With a glycemic index of 53, which is considered low, quinoa helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. If you are on a low-carb diet, eat quinoa in moderation as it a lot of carbs.
Quinoa is packed with health promoting antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals and may fight ageing and many diseases.
It is particularly high in 2 flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol. These important antioxidants have ant-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and anti-depressant properties. Sprouted quinoa contain even more antioxidants.
Cooking quinoa can be easy. Cook a batch ahead of meal times and it becomes an easy thing to add to all your food.
Cooking Perfect Quinoa
If you are working with unrinsed quinoa, you want to start off by soaking your quinoa. The seeds are coated with a bitter substance called saponin so you need to rinse the quinoa to remove it and to make the minerals more available. Any washing technique will work, as long as the water no longer shows any evidence of foaming as saponin is quite soapy.
Place your measured grain in to a bowl and fill with water to cover it, and soak for about 15 minutes, You can use your hands and rub the seeds together to remove more. After soaking, rinse the quinoa a few more times in a fine metal strainer. If you do not have a colander that is fine enough, you can line your regular colander with cheesecloth to prevent it falling through. You can tell when it is ready, as the water will be mostly clear. It is worth this step for the saponin is really bitter. If you are using pre-rinsed quinoa you can skip this step; read the package.
1 cup quinoa with 1.25 cups cooking liquid (water or broths) in a quart sauce pan with cover. (1 cup dry makes 4 cups cooked)
Choose the liquid that best suits the dish you are making. Depending on if you are adding something to this, you may or may not use a bit more liquid.
Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low. Cover and cook for between 30 and 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for an additional five minutes. Fluff and serve. Your quinoa is now ready to be added to stir fry recipes, rice recipes … your options are endless!
If you are cooking quinoa for future use, cool quinoa by spreading it out on a rimmed cookie sheet until it is completely cooled. Once your Quinoa is cooled you can transfer it to a container for storage. Quinoaoes not need much reheating, add at the end of recipes. This cooling stops the cooking and there you have perfect Quinoa! Quinoa can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.
With a precooked batch of quinoa, you can add it to salads, rice, and most anything you desire. Add the cooked quinoa at the end so it keeps it texture yet gets a warm up.
Quinoa goes very well in baked goods adding a bit of crunch and protein to breads, crackers, granola bars and whatever else you might dream of.
It goes easily in to any vegetable dish you know how to make. Quinoa alone needs flavors, perhaps a teaspoon of sesame oil or curry powder, and cook in broths for appeal.
Quinoa is an annual that prefers cooler weather, and is well-suited for more northern growing. Summers should not get hotter than 90F or your plants will suffer.
Seeds germinate in 4 to 5 days and are ready to harvest around 90 to 120 days. Quinoa requires full sun. Water occasionally during dry spells in well-drained and fertile soil. Quinoa does not do well in containers as the plants get very large.
Quinoa is sown right into the garden once the soil has warmed to around 60F. This usually makes for an early spring planting, around the time of your last frost.
Prepare your soil to loosen the earth and to kill any early weeds. Quinoa grows slowly and can have trouble competing with fast growing weeds, so it’s best to get rid of any other growth in the garden before planting and keep the weeds from taking over the small plants.
Plant your seeds in rows, putting them no more than 1/4 inch deep. Final plants should be 10 to 14 inches apart, so plant a few seeds at each location. If more than one sprouts, just thin down to one in each spot. Quinoa is slow growing at first and will suffer if crowded by weeds. Once it reaches a foot high, it will start to grow much faster and should be self-sufficient.
One of the great things about quinoa is that the leaves are edible too. Pick some of the young leaves and either steam them as a cooked green or just add them to a salad.
You’ll know when your quinoa is ready to harvest when the leaves have all dropped off, and your plants are just seed heads on a stalk.
They are fine with a few light frosts, so you needn’t be worried about getting your harvest in before that strikes.
You want your seeds to be completely dry, so try to dent one with your fingernail. If you can put a slight dent into it, then they need more drying time. You can harvest them, and then just allow your grain to finish drying inside.
Store in dry containers.
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