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Curious About Quinoa

January 7, 2011

I’ve been seeing quinoa pop up with increasing frequency in recipes around the blogosphere in the last year or two.  It was one of those “other grains” that was supposed to be good for vegans and the gluten intolerant.  Well actually, just like cashews are not really nuts, quinoa is not really grain.  Both are really seeds.  Anyway, I’d never had it, and to show my ignorance, in my head I was pronouncing it KWIN-oh-uh.  Yeah, Hooked on Phonics does not work on South American words… It’s actually pronounced KEEN-WAH (according to the box anyway).

Anyway, a buddy of mine was raving about the stuff a few months ago, so I finally remembered to buy a box back in December.  And it just kinda hung out in the pantry for a while because I had no idea what to do with it.  I thought of it again this week and started searching out recipes and such for some inspiration on how the heck to cook it.

I ran across this fantastic post about how you can cook quinoa in a rice cooker.  I am ALL OVER THAT.  I love my rice cooker.  There is nothing better than measure, dump, add water, turn on, and walk away.  It will kick to warm when it’s done.  Same reason I adore my crock pot.  We are all about things that make life easier here.

So the other night I tried it.  Just straight up quinoa and water in the rice cooker.  When it was done, I added in some butter and a pinch of garlic powder, paprika, and salt for a bit of flavor.  The texture reminded me of a cross between brown rice and tapioca.  By itself, it’s pretty bland, but hubby agreed it would probably be good IN stuff as a substitute for rice.  So that’s my project for the next little bit, is to try out this stuff in various recipes in place of rice.

So why am I even looking at this?  I mean, this stuff is quite a bit more expensive than rice.  Well, we’re looking at it from a health and diet standpoint.  Quinoa is a fantastic source of vegetable protein (which means that it will keep you fuller longer).  It’s good for variety.  And stacked up against rice, it works out like this per 1 cup serving:

  • white rice-242 calories, 0.4 grams of fat, 4.4 grams of protein, 0 fiber
  • brown rice-218 calories, 1.6 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber
  • quinoa-222 calories, 4 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 5 grams dietary fiber

I’m a little iffy on the quinoa per 1 cup.  This is what came off one of those calorie counting websites.  But when I cooked it, I used 1 cup dry quinoa (4 servings) and 2 liquid cups of water and it seemed to make 4 cups cooked (I was eyeballing but it seemed like way more than half a cup of stuff).  That quarter cup dry, according to the box, is 172 calories…Maybe I used too much water?  Not sure.  In any event it’s high protein, high fiber, loaded with nutrients, and definitely worth giving a try.  I’ll keep you posted as I put it in new recipes!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2011 11:39 am

    I love quinoa. I’ve been eating it as part of my diet (as I need low-carbish grain alternatives to white rice) for about three years now. I know I prefer white quinoa over red or black. I don’t know why, but the red and black have a much stronger, somewhat bitter taste to them, even when well rinsed.

    It’s also great in the morning with some warm half&half, a bit of brown sugar, and some cinnamon. It doesn’t have the gluey consistency of oatmeal, but has the same flavor and chewy texture payout. I’ve not tried replacing rice in recipes, but I think next weekend (after payday) I may buy a box and try making my cabbage rolls with it. 🙂

    • January 7, 2011 11:43 am

      Living in a small town the only kind they even HAVE is the white!

      • January 7, 2011 12:14 pm

        If you ever want to try the others, drop me an email and I’ll ship you a box of each. 😉

  2. arlene permalink
    January 7, 2011 11:57 am

    i have used it to make bread (in my bread machine, of course). i had a recipe for fat free bread made with the quinoa instead of part of the flour. it was delicious and, of course, had protein. i’m looking forward to your recipes because i’ve been told lately by my doctor that i need to eat more protein, protein, protein.

  3. January 7, 2011 12:02 pm

    What makes quinoa so special is that it’s a COMPLETE protein. e.g. if you eat a legume or grain alone, you don’t get a complete protein — you have to eat them together (that’s why we have beans & rice, for example). Alone, quinoa is a perfect protein. I just wished I liked it better. The dish I made was a cold salad sort of thing with veggies added to it. The weird texture and slightly off taste just didn’t work for me. I can’t imagine that I’d be able to eat it straight.

    • January 7, 2011 12:05 pm

      It’s supposed to take flavors pretty well, which is why I’m gonna try it in place of rice in a lot of our favorite recipes. I’m not into grain salads and stuff.

  4. January 7, 2011 12:06 pm

    Ooh, I love quinoa. You can make a fantastic cold salad for the summer – just quinoa, chopped up tomato, onion, bell pepper, etc., with lemon juice and a small amount of olive oil for dressing. Yum!

    I also recently tried making a five-grain hot cereal – millet, barley, brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa – over night in the crockpot. It turned out delicious, but had started to stick, so next time I’ll add more water.

  5. skylarkade permalink
    January 7, 2011 12:14 pm

    Oh, quinoa is my new best friend because its gluten-free and soo good for you. Thanks for the rice-cooker link–I hate cooking grains on the stove top. Please let us know how your quinoa-for-rice recipes go. I’m always on the lookout for ways to incorporate it into more flavorful dishes!

  6. January 7, 2011 1:49 pm

    I just bought some the other day and am curious to try it too – don’t want it gathering dust in my pantry 😀 –

    • January 7, 2011 1:51 pm

      A lot of people say that it can be quite bitter, so I’m thinking it needs to be used in dishes that, themselves, have quite strong flavors. Also have to be sure to rinse it before cooking unless the box says you don’t have to.

  7. Lisa Fields permalink
    January 8, 2011 8:46 pm

    I’m a big fan of quinoa. My co-worker makes it with corn, black & lima beans, and a killer cilantro vinagrette.

    The trendiness of quinoa is actually becoming a problem for Bolivians. It’s considered to be an amazing source of nutrition because it has all the essential amino acids (very rare)… now bolivian families are giving white rice to their children because of the money the crop brings in read this very interesting

  8. January 19, 2011 1:06 am

    This means that no matter how bad of a cook you are you can cook quinoa..Of course a microwave rice cooker is also great for um cooking rice. Which I do from time to time. .The primary advantage of a microwave rice cooker is that you can cook rice or quinoa with very little chance of scorching.

  9. February 22, 2011 8:01 am

    i have tried it for most of my family’s meal recipes and now I am just starting to use it for baking. truly a flexible health food. : )

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