Quinoa is an extremely interesting plant. It is native to South America and grows easily in climates that most other crops cannot stand. When you hear of people cooking quinoa, most of the time they are referring to the seed. However, it is important to know that quinoa is also available as quinoa flakes or quinoa flour. There are over 1800 varieties of seeds and you can find red, black or cream quinoa. The creme seeds are used to make quinoa flour and flakes.
An Introduction to Cooking Quinoa
If you are new to quinoa, you may be wondering how it is prepared. Cooking Quinoa is very similar to cooking rice. You can cook it on the stove top or in a steam cooker. Like rice, quinoa is typically cooked through the absorption method.
Quinoa seeds expand dramatically when cooked. One cup of quinoa seeds will yield three cups of cooked quinoa. Red quinoa and white quinoa are cooked in the same manner but red quinoa can take a bit longer.
Check out this post on how to cook quinoa perfectly!
Quinoa is a delicious “super food”. Th quinoa nutrition profile is spectacular! In fact, the quinoa nutrition facts are so amazing, that even NASA is considering the possibility of growing quinoa in long term manned space missions. While most people think that it is a grain, it is actually a seed. Quinoa can be substituted for rice, oats, pasta and couscous and provides all 8 of the essential amino acids. It tastes great and thanks to the protein and slow releasing carbohydrates it is very filling.
Quinoa Cooking Ideas
Quinoa seeds are extremely versatile and can be used in place of most any grain. In some instances quinoa even works well in place of pasta. You can even improve the nutritional quality of bread by adding the seeds to it like I did in this quinoa bread post.
However you are cooking quinoa, it is important that you remember to rinse the seeds first! The outside of quinoa seeds is covered in a bitter substance called saponin.
The first time you smell quinoa flour, you may be a bit taken aback by the smell. Raw, the flour is very earthy. Some people have compared it to the smell of dirt. However, once cooked the flavor becomes quite nutty and distinctive. I find that there are many dishes that I like better with a bit of quinoa flour added to it. Like whole wheat flour, you generally only want to substitute a portion of the white flour for quinoa flour when baking. Remember, baking is science and some experimenting can be necessary. Start by substituting half of the white flour a dish calls for and go on from there.
Quinoa flakes resemble oatmeal, but with a lighter texture. It is a great substitute for oatmeal when you are looking for a dish with a complete protein. Looking to add protein to your smoothie recipes? Just mix quinoa flakes with a little water and blend in!
Quinoa should be stored in a cool dark place in an airtight container. It will remain fresh for a year. You can also store in the refrigerator or freezer to expand the shelf life.
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