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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Quinoa Provides Complete Protein: Here's How to Cook It

Quinoa (pronounced keen-WA) has been around for centuries, but it is becoming popular as people look for ways to get protein in their diets without loading up on meat. Unlike most grains, quinoa provides complete protein.

We haven't found anybody—carnivore or vegetarian—who doesn't like our quinoa and lentil salad.

Basically, you cook quinoa like white rice, but with a little more water.

First, always rinse it well under running water in a fine strainer, or soak it for a couple of hours and then rinse.*

Next, using the proportion of one cup quinoa to two cups of water, put the water and quinoa in a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt and bring it to a boil.

Cover and reduce the heat to simmer, and let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. You'll be able to see the curly germ of the grain about the time it's done.

One cup of raw quinoa produces about three cups of cooked quinoa. As with rice, you can substitute broth for the water to give it more flavor.

Here's what Wikipedia says about the nutritional value of quinoa.

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 healthful choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low inlysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.[3] 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.

High in protein, high in fiber, gluten-free, with a nutty flavor and al dente texture—what's not to love about quinoa?

*Rinsing not only cleans the quinoa but, more importantly, removes the saponins, which protect the plant against microbes and fungi when growing, but can taste bitter.

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