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Quinoa – The “Super-Grain” that’s super easy to cook!

POSTED BY Rosemary ON Mar 7th, 2012

Written by: Rosemary Seguin CNP, NNCP

There has been so much interest recently regarding this fantastic grain and rightfully so considering it’s one of the most nutritious grains available! I have been recommending this grain to clients and friends of mine for years and they just can’t get enough of it. So I decided to share with all of you the amazing benefits of this delicious grain and why it’s fast becoming a household staple. I’ve also included my favourite quinoa recipe for you to try. I hope you love it as much as I do!  



Why Eat It? Nutritionally, quinoa is considered a “super-grain”- although it is not really a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant that's distantly related to spinach. Quinoa has excellent reserves of protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete. This makes it a great protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

Why is Quinoa known as “The most nutritious grain available”? It’s very easy to digest, it’s gluten free and offers higher amounts of iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium, riboflavin and calcium, as well as B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of vitamin E, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some folate (folic acid). Quinoa is also an excellent source of nutrition for children.

What does it taste like? Quinoa has a light, delicate, slightly nutty flavour and texture. It can be substituted for almost any other grain. Try it as a substitute for rice or couscous dishes.

Where is it grown? Though quinoa is a recent addition to North American food stores, this crop, native to the Andes, sustained the ancient Incas, and has been cultivated continuously for more than 5,000 years. Quinoa thrives in poor soil, arid climates, and mountainous altitudes. Today, most quinoa is imported from South America, although it is being cultivated on the high slopes of the Colorado Rockies.

Preparation:  Rinse quinoa well with water and drain in a fine mesh sieve. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that repels insects and birds and can create a bitter taste and make it harder to digest for some.

(Although most packaged quinoa is pre-rinsed, it’s best to rinse again to make sure all the saponin is removed).

I put the measured quinoa in a bowl with water, give it a stir, drain and repeat once or twice until all the cloudy and “soapy” particles are removed from the water.

To cook, use two parts liquid to one part quinoa. Combine the liquid and quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the grains have absorbed all the water, approx 10-15 minutes. Note: During cooking, it increases about three to four times in volume. Tip: Toast the grains in a dry skillet for five minutes before cooking to give it a delicious roasted flavor. Quinoa is excellent in hot casseroles and soups, stews, stir-fries, cold in salads or by itself.

Storage: Store quinoa like other grains, in a tightly closed container in a cool, dry place.

Where to buy? At The Garden Basket we sell organic quinoa in bulk containers in the produce department, Bob’s Red Mill and GoGo Quiona brands in the Grocery department and we also carry quinoa pasta, cookies (a must try – they are amazing!) and cereal. (The quinoa pasta does not need rinsing before cooking. I would just give it a quick rinse after it’s cooked).  


Quinoa Tabouli Recipe:


Yield: 4-6 servings



2 cups filtered water

½ cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup quinoa

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 medium ripe tomatoes

2 tbsp fresh mint

1 ½ cups parsley, coarsely chopped

1 cup scallions, chopped

salt, to taste



1. Rinse quinoa well with water and drain in a fine mesh sieve.

1. Place filtered water and quinoa into a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, finely chop the tomatoes, parsley, and scallions. Add lemon juice, olive oil and fresh mint to the tomato mixture.

3. Stir in cooked quinoa and salt. Mix well.

4. Let tabouli sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend flavors.

5. Tabouli is traditionally served at room temperature so remove from fridge 30 to 60 minutes before serving.



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