If you've never heard of this Quinoa is a grain like seed that has a balanced set of essential amino acids, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is gluten free, and LOADED with protein. :D
In its natural state quinoa is covered with a bitter chemical compound called Saponin. Most quinoa sold in North America has been processed to remove this. This compound makes quinoa unsavory to birds and animals and therefore can be grown with little to no protection over it, unlike corn and wheat.
Quinoa is a popular alternative to white rice and even couscous because of the nutritional value. It has a slightly nutty flavor and is very mild. You can add basically anything to quinoa to get its health benefits at every meal. It can be eaten sweet or savory, and is great both ways.
If you want to add quinoa to a salad or cold dish, I recommend soaking it in water for several hours to allow the seeds to germinate a bit and soften up. If you skip this step and you're not cooking it, you could very well crack a tooth... it's not soft. If you are going to cook it, it has the same basic rules as rice it's a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa.
First we'll do a savory recipe:
Quinoa and black beans
2 c. chicken broth approx 1 can
1 c. quinoa
1 shallot, finely minced
2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (you can used dried and reconstitute them if you prefer)
Crushed Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
2 roma tomatoes diced
Rinse quinoa. It's messy... and I don't have any awesome time saving tips for this... if I find an easy way I'll let you know!
Put chicken broth and quinoa in a sauce pan, bring to boil. Simmer covered for 12 to 15 minutes until the germ has separated (they're tiny solid colored curly q's). Remove from heat and let sit covered for 3-5 minutes to finish absorbing the liquid. While your quinoa is cooking get another sauce pan, and a small saute pan. In the saute pan heat a bit of olive oil, probably less than a tsp, on low heat. Saute shallot and garlic until translucent. Put the beans in the other sauce pan with all of the seasonings, garlic, and shallot. Simmer the beans while the quinoa finishes cooking. Once the quinoa is done fluff it with a fork and mix it with the beans. Top each portion with some diced tomatoes.
And something sweet:
Quinoa and fruit
1 c milk
1 c water
1 c quinoa rinsed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp Agave nectar
2 c.fresh fruit, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, apple... pretty much whatever
1/3 c. nuts, pecans, walnuts, or almonds
In a saucepan bring water, milk and rinsed quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, turn down heat and simmer covered for 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let quinoa rest to finish absorbing the liquid. Fluff quinoa with a fork, add in spices, and fruit. Stir to combine. When serving sprinkle nuts over top, and add 1 tsp agave nectar to each serving. Best served warm.