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Monday, May 24, 2010

Quinoa, the Mother of All Grains!

Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. Its name is the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name. Quinoa is generally undemanding and altitude-hardy, so it can be easily cultivated in the Andes up to about 4,000 meters. Even so, it grows best in well-drained soils and requires a relatively long growing season. In eastern North America, it is susceptible to a leaf miner that may reduce crop success; this leaf miner also affects the common weed and close relative Chenopodium album, but C. album is much more resistant.
The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred,[3] referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or mother of all grains, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using 'golden implements'.

For our purposes I will tell you that quinoa is quick to make, versatile to use, and above all nutritious!

Quinoa is so versatile; it can even be prepared in your rice cooker. The ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. I had some extra time today so I prepared it in the following way:

Recipe Tips: The following amounts made more than enough for my purposes which was 2 salads. I made a bunch so that I would have leftovers, yum!

Although Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa does not require rinsing, some brands due. Quinoa has a bitter natural coating referred to as bitter saponins which can be easily rinsed away.

If your quinoa does not specify being pre-rinsed, simply place it in a bowl, pour enough cool water over the quinoa to cover and let sit 15 minutes. You will see air bubbles form on the water. Strain through a fine colander or a large hole colander with a piece of cheese cloth inside. Now it is ready to use.

2 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa
2 1/4 cups water

First place quinoa in saucepan. Then pour the water over top.
Bring quinoa to a boil and then turn down heat to simmer. Stir quinoa freqently. Cook until water has evaporated approximately 20-25 minutes. Cook times will vary. Flake quinoa apart with a fork. Enjoy!

I like quinoa with salt and pepper, but that does not showcase this grain's versatility. Stay tuned because I am going to share some recipes that will give credit to the "Mother of All Grains" For example using quinoa intead of pasta  in your favorite "pasta" salad.

Don't forget if you are short on time and have a rice cooker, use that after rinsing the quinoa!

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