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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cooking Quinoa

One of the interesting aspects of my fitness journey is experimenting with various foods.  Quinoa (pronounded 'keen wah'), popular with those eating the Paleo diet,  is one of those foods that I've enjoyed in salads but until recently did not cook it at home.  Quinoa is an ancient food that has been cultivated for years in the South American Andes.  It was known as the Mother Grain and revered as sacred by the Incas. 

uncooked quinoa
Quinoa is not a grain but rather the seed of the Goosefoot plant.  Native inhabitants used quinoa like a grain in breads and soups.  The seeds are small flattened, opaque discs with a slightly darker band around the circumference with a tiny embryo tip extending from the seed that would develop into a root tip if the seeds were sprouted.  I don't know how well the seeds sprout but that is on my agenda of quinoa experiments.  Quinoa is also available ground into a flour that can be used for baking and more importantly for the Paleo folks, quinoa flour is used to make quinoa pasta as a substitute for wheat based pasta.

Quinoa is more expensive than other grains but it is usually organic or I should say I have only found organic quinoa.  A 400 g (14 oz) bag of organic quinoa costs about $6.  It is an excellent substitute for rice with similar cooking method and timing.  Quinoa is however, considerably higher in protein than white rice.  It is just slightly higher in calories by 17 cal per cup but is also significantly higher in potassium, lower in carbohydrates and higher in iron making quinoa a good nutritional value over white rice.

cooked quinoa
Quinoa is cooked very much like white rice but because it is a seed rather than a grain, it is important to rinse the quinoa well before cooking.  Once cooked, it can be used plain as a side dish as pictured or cooled for use as an ingredient in other dishes.  The opaque disks take on a translucence while the darker band turns white when the quinoa is cooked.  It has a pleasant, nutty flavour that is sure to please.

Method:  Measure 1 cup of quinoa into a fine mesh strainer.  Rinse well.  Place the rinsed quinoa into a medium sized saucepan.  Pour 2 c of water over the quinoa.  Stire.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Drain using the fine mesh strainer.  Return the cooked quinoa to the saucepan.  Cover and let sit 15 minutes.  Fluff and serve or cool as desired.

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