Unique Whole Grains with High Quality Protein — Part One
I had read about the ancient grain with the fun-to-say name, quinoa (keen-wah), but I didn’t actually taste it until a few months ago. Once considered the “gold of the Incas,” quinoa is thought to have been an important food for over 6,000 years — Inca tribes in the Andes Mountains cultivated it. Knowing that long and rich history kind of makes you want to try it, right?
Quinoa comes in a few different colors. You might come across black quinoa, for example, which at first glance looked like poppy seeds on steroids. I cooked up some of the yellow colored quinoa in my rice cooker with chicken broth (2 cups per cup of dry quinoa). I pressed the “brown rice” setting. The rice cooker shuts off when it is done, but generally it should cook up in about 20-30 minutes. It worked like a charm and couldn’t have been easier.
If you don’t have a rice cooker, just cook it in a covered saucepan. Add 1½ cups of cold water to 1 cup of dry quinoa. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit covered for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Why try quinoa? Here are five nutritional reasons:
- Quinoa is a unique grain in that it has all nine essential amino acids (making it a complete protein)
- Quinoa is higher in protein than similar grains (7 grams protein per ¼ cup dry)
- Quinoa is notably rich in polyphenols (phytochemicals known for their potentially protective antioxidant activity) compared to other grains
- Each serving also adds 3 grams of fiber and 10% of the daily value for iron
- Quinoa is gluten-free
Use quinoa in any recipe calling for white or brown rice — it has twice the protein and iron of brown rice.
You can even enjoy cooked quinoa for breakfast — just mix it with almonds or berries and add a light drizzle of honey.
Stay tuned for the next blog post on another whole grain that’s a complete protein.
Have you tried quinoa? What’s your favorite way to use it?