Quinoa Makes A Great Whole Grain Breakfast–Here’s How

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I ‘ve written about quinoa before, and included it in several recipes, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned what a great breakfast cereal it can be. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just about everything you’d want in a morning meal–it’s light, quick to cook, digestible, high in fiber and high in protein (18%), with a good balance of essential amino acids. And for those of you with gluten sensitivities, it is gluten free. Unconvinced?  Trying adding a tablespoon of raisins for sweetness, a tablespoon of toasted sunflower seeds for crunch, and a little milk of your choice for moistness. All in all, a good way to start the day.

To cook quinoa: bring 2 1/4 cups water to a boil in a small sauce pan, add a pinch of salt. Measure one cup of quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse well under running water. When the water boils, add the quinoa and cover. As soon as it boils again, turn down heat to low. Cook 20 minutes. Fluff up. Serves four. Quinoa will keep well in the fridge for two to three days. When reheating, add about a quarter cup water for each cup of cooked quinoa and warm over medium heat four to five minutes. Read more about quinoa, and see my recipe for quinoa-potato sauté here.
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Quinoa: The Inca’s Mother of all Grains Comes to Your Home Kitchen


Quinoa in flower (photo by Christian Guthier via Flickr)

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Most of you already know, it’s pronounced KEEN-Wah, grows in the Andes, and is high in protein.  What didn’t you know? Did you know that quinoa has been cultivated for some 6,000 years, that the Incas considered it “the mother of all grains,” and that Peru and Bolivia are still the world’s leading producers? In the past twenty five years quinoa has come from being almost unknown in North America to being almost mainstream (I’ve bought organic quinoa at Costco). I attribute that in part to our obsession with protein–quinoa contains all the essential amino acids, and is 12-18% protein.  It’s also a source of phosphorus, magnesium and iron, and is gluten free. Additionally, it’s quick cooking and easy to eat. In short, I predict a brilliant future for quinoa in North America. It’s major downside, that it is naturally coated with a bitter and slightly toxic substance called saponin, has mostly been eliminated by thorough washing before being marketed.  Still, a good rinse before cooking is usually advised.  Most commonly, quinoa is cooked like rice: two parts water to one part quinoa, bring to a boil, cover, turn down to a slow simmer and simmer for about twenty minutes. When cooked, the grains open up and acquire a tiny, white ring around them. Well-stocked natural food stores sell quinoa flakes and flour as well as the whole grain. You will happily eat quinoa as a simple cooked grain, or with a sauce, but if you want to dress it up a little, try my recipe for Quinoa-Potato Sauté with a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds (a marriage of three Latin American natives) … Continue reading