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What is quinoa?

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 11:36 a.m. CST

One of the grains in the demonstration plot of food grains at Osceola Community Diversity Gardens is quinoa. It has recently regained some interest among those who show great interest in eating healthy.

So, what is quinoa? While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like shole grains, such as rice or barley.

Quinoa can be used in salad recipes or served as vegetable stir-fry over cooked quinoa instead of rice.

Quinoa is a favorite whole grain for many for three reasons. First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 – 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains, such as millet orteff. Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice. Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content.

Quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, and is almost always organic.

Culinary ethnologists will be interested to know quinoa was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude.

Cooking Quinoa: Prepare quinoa as you would prepare rice. Cover it with water or vegetable broth and boil until soft, about 15 minutes. Or, place one part quinoa to two parts water in your rice cooker.

Nutritional content of quinoa: According to CalorieCount, a one-third cup of cooked quinoa has 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.

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