Learn About Quinoa
Quinoa: An Ancient Food Back in Fashion
Studies show that people who eat at least three servings of whole grains a day have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also seem to maintain a healthy weight more easily. If you'd like to try something different from whole wheat pasta, oats, and brown rice, consider protein-rich quinoa ("KEEN-wah"). Because this grain is so mild-flavored and versatile, you'll find lots of easy quinoa recipes that will suit your taste.
Simple Solution for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner
Quinoa was a staple of ancient Andean civilizations. Today, thousands of quinoa varieties thrive, ranging in color from pale ivory to yellow and even purplish black. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.
Nature protects each grain of quinoa with a coating of saponin, a bitter, soap-like substance that acts as a natural insect repellent, so it is important to rinse quinoa well before cooking. Unlike other whole grains, the germ — the nutrient-rich middle layer of a grain — covers the entire kernel of quinoa. As quinoa cooks, the germ separates from the kernel, creating little white rings. When you see these rings, you know the grains are fully cooked.
Quinoa is good served hot or at room temperature. It works well in pilafs, stews, soups, salads and as a morning cereal drizzled with maple syrup. To cook quinoa for a pilaf or salad, you can use water or broth. For cereal, try apple or orange juice. To make the cooked grains fluffier, first rinse and roast them in a dry non-stick pan over medium-low heat, stirring until they become fragrant and pop. In about three minutes, when the popping stops, add the liquid, cover and cook until the quinoa is done, about 15 minutes. For some great quinoa recipes, check out the selection in dLife's Recipe Finder.
Excerpted and adapted from AICR Ever Green, Every Healthy, February 2006 and The World's Healthiest Foods.
Reviewed by Susan Weiner, R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N. 3/08
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