What is it?
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a seed that is part of the goosefoot species. While the quinoa seed is very small, when cooked, it expands to three times its size and contains a surprising amount of nutritional value as it contains all eight essential amino acids and a combination of life-supporting nutrients.
Why use it?
When cooked, this seed is high in protein, fibre and magnesium, it is gluten-free and vitamin rich (contains riboflavin, calcium, vitamin E, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, folic acid and beta carotene) and also contains the essential fatty acid that aids in improving immune response. All of this contributes to Quinoa being a highly digestible side or main course in any meal. Additionally, it is very versatile and recipe options are virtually endless.
Where do I get it?
As quinoa has grown in popularity, it has become easy to procure. It is readily available in larger grocery stores in the health food section as well as at bulk food stores.
How to Prepare It?
Quinoa must always be rinsed before cooking. By soaking the quinoa for 15-20 minutes before you rinse it, any bitterness associated with the seed is minimized. Quinoa is generally cooked in liquid (water or broth) which causes it to expand and become light and fluffy. From here, the uses of quinoa are endless!
How do I integrate it into my family’s daily routine?
There are countless original quinoa recipes, but it can also be used as a substitute in existing recipes, too! It can be used a substitute for rice and couscous and makes a great addition to salads and soups. Some recipes can utilize quinoa flour as substitute for wheat flour (but not all as yeast needs gluten to rise, and quinoa does not contain gluten) and quinoa flakes can be used as substitute for oats in baking!
Here are some examples of great recipes using Quinoa. Please share your recipes too!
Quinoa Mexicana Salad
(makes 6-8 toddler servings)
Prep Time: 5 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Total Time: 20 minutes
1/2 cup quinoa, washed and drained
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn, cooked
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste
- Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a saucepan.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes.
- Place the quinoa in a bowl and cool.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
4 large ripe but firm tomatoes (preferably heirloom)
1/2 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
6 ounces tempeh, diced
2/3 cup raisins
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Bring broth and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until water is absorbed and grains are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the top off each tomato to expose the inside. Use a spoon to hollow out pulp and seeds and place in a bowl. Chop the tomato tops and add to the bowl. Set bowl and tomato shells aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large skillet, combine onion and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic, tempeh, raisins, thyme, pepper and reserved tomato trimmings and cook, stirring frequently, until most liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa and parsley. Stuff tomato shells with quinoa mixture, mounding it on top, and place tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until tomatoes are soft and filling is just browned on top, about 15 minutes.
Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 organic sprouted green lentils
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons diced red onion
2 tablespoons any natural herb/spice seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato (or more)
Salsa or other condiments of your choice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook quinoa and lentils separately according to package instructions. Drain lentils well. In a medium bowl, mix together quinoa, lentils, red pepper, onion, seasoning, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add sweet potato and combine using hands until mixture sticks together easily. If mixture is not sticking together, add more cooked sweet potato until desired consistency is reached.
Form the mixture into four (4-inch) patties and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes. Flip and continue baking 10 to 12 minutes more until edges are dry and patties are heated through. Serve with your favorite condiments.