BY KIM HUGHES –
There is a gluten-free grain gaining popularity, called Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. It’s a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids necessary for good health.
Quinoa was first harvested in Bolivia thousands of years ago. It has a mild flavor and light crunch, which makes this gluten-free grain a perfect substitute for rice, couscous, or pasta. It’s even being milled into gluten-free flour that can be used in baking or as the base for gluten-free pastas and cereals.
It comes in three color varieties, whole grain white, black, and red. Whole grain white is the easiest to find. The tiny, bead-shaped, quinoa cooks like rice and expands to four times its original volume. Its flavor is delicate, almost bland, and may be compared to couscous. While botanically it is not a grain, we cook it and eat it as a grain so you will find it locally packaged as a grain, and found in the baking section or pasta section of most supermarkets.
This super grain is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains, and it provides a rich and balanced source of vital nutrients. In just one fourth cup serving you get 158 calories, 5 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, and 3 grams dietary fiber.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it will keep approximately three to six months.
Preparing quinoa is an easy process, but rinsing is essential. Commercial cultivation removes much of the soapy saponins that coats quinoa seeds, however it is still a good idea to thoroughly wash the seeds. An effective method is to run cold water over quinoa that has been placed in a fine-meshed strainer, gently rubbing the seeds together with your hands. To ensure that the saponins have been completely removed, taste a few seeds. If saponins are still on the quinoa, they will have a bitter taste, and you will need to rinse again.
Cooked quinoa will have grains that have become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail.
Quinoa is versatile and can be used in a breakfast dish similar to rice pudding, or in a vegetable salad, stew or pilaf.