Quinoa: The "New" Ancient Grain

So you may (or not) have been hearing about a “new” food. Quinoa. If you are like me, you probably said “Um, exsqueeze me? Keen-what?”

Quinoa – pronounced “keenwha” not “kween noah”, like I thought – is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a grass. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited. Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. Its name is the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name. Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.[4] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.[4]Wikipedia

 Quinoa in space? Awesome!

So what does all that gobbldey-gook mean? It’s healthy. (contains all 9 essential amino acids. That’s protein. ) And it is the only grain that is a complete protein! (1) 1/4 cup serving contains 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and has lots of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). It’s tasty. It’s budget-friendly ($2.99 avg price per pound. 1 pound makes about 11 servings. That’s $0.27 per serving!) 

It’s also super easy to cook. 

Quinoa Cooking Basics

Cooking quinoa is super easy. Got 10-15 minutes? If you can boil water, you can cook quinoa. Basic cooking recipe is this: 

1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. Bring liquid and quinoa to a boil, reduce heat to low (how low can  you go? how low can you go? *hee hee*), cover and simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. That’s it! Told ya it was easy. 

I like to cook quinoa in vegetable stock, to bump up the nutrition even more. Use it as a replacement in recipes for couscous and brown rice. It’s cooked texture is light and fluffy, just like couscous. It’s possibilities are endless. All hail quinoa!

Where to buy:

Fresh & Easy

Henry’s Farmers Markets

Trader Joe’s

Sprouts Farmers Market $3.99/lb bulk section

Whole Foods Market $2.99/lb bulk section

It may/may not be available in “conventional” grocery stores. I limit my shopping in those types of stores. If you find it in one, let us know where and what the price was!

Uncooked Quinoa

The SoCal FruGal

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3 Responses

  1. We love quinoa. One thing I have to remember is that it expand as it cooks. I have to be careful when adding it to soups otherwise they get way too “thick”. Otherwise it is great, has a mild taste and goes with everything.

  2. Costco sell it too- 4 lb bag for around $9.

  3. I love Quinoa, bulgar is really good too!

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