Quinoa, pronounced (Keen-Wah), is a pseudograin native to the Andes Mountains of Boliva, Chile and Peru.  What are pseudograins?  They are actually seeds but are commonly referred to as a grain.  Pseudograins contain no gluten making them easy to digest. They are also alkaline forming which, if the body is kept in pH balance (7.35%), some health experts believe helps prevent the development of many diseases.

Quinoa is a complete protein.  A complete protein is a whole protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.  Packed with vitamin B, it is also a good source of iron, potassium, protein (I’ve read varying reports of 13.8 – 20 %), and lysine.  Lysine plays a role in such things as calcium absorption, building muscle protein, lowering cholesterol and converting fatty acids into energy.

Because quinoa is coated in a bitter compound called saponin, soaking in water for 15 minutes followed by rinsing is imperative.  Many grocery stores sell packaged quinoa that has already been pre-soaked but take care to rinse in a sieve or cheesecloth before cooking as this will remove any residual saponin.  I buy quinoa in bulk so soaking and rinsing (until water runs clear, a minute or two) is important.

This is red quinoa that has been soaked and rinsed.

Besides its superior nutritional value, I choose quinoa over many other grains (like rice) for its mild earthy flavor and ease of cooking.

When cooking, like rice, the quinoa to water ratio is 1:2. Bring quinoa to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 20 minutes.  Fluff with fork and let set for a minute or two.

Of course, quinoa combines well with many spices and vegetables. Check out this
Tex Mex Quinoa recipe that is both delicious and quick to prepare.