Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa, or KEE- noh-wa, or even kee-NOH-ah) is a grain. It is gluten-free, and it contains all the essential amino acids including lysine, making it a complete protein source (like meat, dairy and tofu). Quinoa is also a good source of calcium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. (As a matter of fact, due to its high nutritional value, NASA is considering it for its Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.)
Quinoa was first domesticated in the Andes. The Incas, considered the crop to be sacred, they called it chisaya mama (mother of all grains). The Inca emperor would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season. Later, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as “food for Indians”, and even actively suppressed its cultivation. For a time it was forbidden to grow quinoa and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.
Quinoa can be cooked like rice or couscous. adding one cup of quinoa to two cups of boiling water and simmering for 10-15 minutes. Quinoa can also be a high-protein breakfast food and mixed with honey, nuts or berries.
Here is an interesting recipe I found and am going to try out:
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
- handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
- small handful cilantro, diced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- salt, to taste
- Warm the olive/coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the rinsed quinoa and toast for about 2-3 minutes until it starts smelling nutty and lovely. Add water, stir once, cover, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare all other ingredients. Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt. Whisk it aggressively. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
- When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from heat and fluff with a fork. Add black beans and toss to warm them through.
- Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients, including the dressing, and mix.