Originally cultivated by the Incas, quinoa is a grain-like seed that’s gluten-free and high in all 8 essential amino acids (forming a complete protein). Since I’m eschewing gluten, I’ve experimented off and on with quinoa, and the results have been great. If you’re not familiar with this special food, here are some ways you can incorporate it into your diet.
Quinoa flakes easily replace oatmeal as a quick breakfast, although you can use them in baked goods as well. In this case, going gluten-free doesn’t mean complications and extra time in the kitchen. Here’s a link to the brand I’ve found at Whole Foods.
The same company also produces quinoa pasta, which has a pleasing taste and texture. Even my husband likes it enough to forgo regular wheat pasta. I prefer it to rice noodles, but the corn content may be a problem for some people.
Of course, the very best way to consume any grain, including quinoa, is in its whole form. Consider soaking the grains overnight to make them easier to digest. Whether you choose to soak the quinoa or not, be sure to rinse it thoroughly before cooking to remove its bitter resin. Ways to use the whole grain? Replace the wheat in dishes like tabbouleh or couscous. Or you can prepare it as a pilaf to serve as a side. Or you can make a porridge out of it for breakfast. This recipe is delicious! I made it a couple of days ago, replacing the sugar with stevia. I was especially pleased by its creaminess, despite the lack of dairy. Yum!
Finally, consider purchasing quinoa flour for baking. Here’s a tasty cake recipe, from the book Eat Right for Your Type:
Quinoa Applesauce Cake
1 3/4 cup quinoa flour
1 cup currants or other dried fruit
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum-free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup canola oil (organic) or, if dairy’s not a problem, 1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Sucanat or other unrefined sugar
1 large egg
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over currants and nuts and set aside. Blend baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cloves with remaining quinoa flour. Separately mix oil (or butter), sugar, and egg. Combine all ingredients, adding fruit and nuts at end. Spoon into oiled 8×8-inch cake pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tester tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Hope you give quinoa a try!