Jan 7, 2013

I'm Maria Filosa from WDIY and your listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. Quinoa, although considered a grain, it is really the seed of the 'CHENOPODIUM QUINOA WILD' and is part of the goosefoot family of plants. These plants also include spinach, swiss chard and beets.

Of all the whole grains it has the highest protein content, 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa has 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of fat and 111 calories. It is gluten free, cholesterol free and almost always organic. Quinoa has been around for thousands of years and was one of the main foods of the Incan people, in fact, the word quinoa means mother grain. It is also the only plant that contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein. That means if you had only one plant to eat, your choice should be quinoa because it can in and of itself sustain life. Many vegetarians include quinoa in their diets because of it's incredible nutritional value. Also, it can be prepared many different ways taking you from breakfast through dinner with dessert.

Quinoa comes in many colors but the most popular and versatile is white. The outer coating in fresh grown quinoa contains a bitter substance called saponin. To remove this coating, rinse the quinoa several times before cooking it. Although most purchased quinoa has already been rinsed and dried to remove the saponin , it is a simple step.

The basic ratio for cooking is 1 part quinoa to approximately 1 1/2 to 2 parts liquid. Place quinoa and liquid into a covered saucepan, heat to boiling then lower heat to simmer. In 15 minutes you have light, fluffy quinoa ready to eat or add to other ingredients.

A delicious breakfast is made by cooking the quinoa in apple juice along with a diced apple, cinnamon and a bit of honey. For a healthy lunch dish, add cooked quinoa to a salad with fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. I like to keep some cooked quinoa on hand in my refrigerator so I can add it to most any dish. When I make meatloaf or hamburgers, I mix in some quinoa to up the nutritional value of my meal.

For anyone who is gluten intolerant, quinoa can be a life saver. You can make a bread or pizza crust by first soaking 1 cup of quinoa in water overnight. Drain and rinse then put into a blender with 1/2 cup of water, garlic, salt, pepper and some Italian seasonings. Blend until it is a puree and the consistency of light pancake batter. Heat a skillet on the stove with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the batter into the skillet and spread it around with a spatula. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes on medium heat or until the bottom is lightly browned. Gently flip the bread to cook the other side another 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, you can just remove the bread and eat it by itself or with some type of filling such as tuna salad, a cooked egg or just about anything you like. For pizza place some tomato sauce and cheese on top, then place in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the sauce is hot. Do not place too many ingredients on top because although it is a firm bread, it doesn't have the elasticity of a wheat crust.

You can also buy quinoa flour and flakes which can be made in to delicious cookies and muffins. I made these this cookie recipe and it turned out great!

1 cup quinoa flour

3/4 cup quinoa flakes

1/2 cup each butter, honey, brown sugar, almond butter, and chopped nuts

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all in a food processor then place small dough balls on a greased cookie sheet pressing them flat with your fingers. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until browned. These cookies are gluten and dairy free and actually contain protein. How's that for a healthy snack!

So the next time you see a health food store in your travels, stop in an pick up some wonderful, versatile quinoa. You may want to keep this one on hand for all your cooking and baking needs.

I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef, have a bountiful day!