Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A little about the Superfood - Quinoa

For centuries rice has been a staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia.  I don't know about you but I love smelling steaming white rice, especially when I scope spoonfuls of braised meat sauce and drizzle all over it to eat with all the other dishes.  Rice tastes great when we cooked it in other ways too we can make them into fried rice, baked rice, risotto, casserole mmm~~ all my favourite kind of food!

However, in the recent years there is an increase of people substituting white rice with either brown rice, couscous, barley and the more popular one is Quinoa. 

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah) is a tiny grain (actually it is a seed of a leafy plant called Chenopodium quinoa) that is considered as complete food because it is high with protein, full of vitamins, is antioxidant, totally gluten plus it is wheat and cholesterol free.  That's not all, quinoa have other health benefits too, from aiding weight loss to lowers blood pressure, on top of tha because it has low GI or Glycaemic Index it is a beneficial food to diabetics patients as it helps to lower blood sugar.

Now, it is difficult for us to change our taste let alone a staple food in our diet, with loadful of health benefits or not.  However, I guarantee that you will love it after the first mouthful.  So, let's talk a little bit more about quinoa.

How does a quinoa look like?
Quinoa is a grain that is tiny and round with a find band around it and ending it with something that looks like a tail,  As it cooks this "tail" sort of spirals out and almost detaches itself and when it is cooked it retains a little bit of crunch thus giving it a unique texture.

This is an amazing part about quinoa - when the grain is cooked it expanded to almost four times of its original volume!

Quinoa varieties?
There are different varieties of quinoa, it is available in gran flake and flour form thus making it suitable for cooking in many different ways.

Colors of the quinoa?
Quinoa basically comes in three colors; white which is the more widely available and quickest to cook, red takes a longer time to cook and black that takes the longest and keeps most of its crunchy texture.

How does quinoa taste like?
Cooked quinoa has a very distinctive nutty taste and appearance which makes them stands out from other grains.

How to prepare quinoa for cooking?
Due to the arid climate that it is grown in, quinoa seeds developed a coating of naturally-forming chemicals known as saponins to protect itself from the harsh elements. This coating leaves a bitter residue that is not easy on the palate.  Even though store bought quinoa are pre-washed with the saponins are already removed, it is still a good idea to rinse it thoroughly before cooking by placing the seeds in a strainer, and running cold water over the seeds while gently rubbing them together with your hands to remove any residue of saponins.

How to cook quinoa?
As shown in the infographic above it's 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water.   You can cook the quinoa using the rice cooker, this is the less fussy way.  However if you are like me, who likes to watch my food being cooked, you can cook them over the stove too.

Start by adding water to the quinoa in a pot and bring it to boil over high heat, turn down the fire to let it simmer till all water has been absorbed, this will take probably about 10-12 minutes. When it is cooked you will notice that the quinoa becomes sort of translucent, and the detached white germs appear to be white-spiraled strands.  After it is cooked, cover the pot to let the quinoa rest for 5 -10 minutes before fluffing it, this will ensure it is softer and fluffier.

Quinoa works brilliantly with spices such as cumin, coriander and paprika, for easy flavouring add a pinch while the quinoa is cooking, if you don't have these spices then add a pinch of kosher salt instead.

I recently tasted quinoa and I love it so much!  I did not have "white-steaming-rice" withdrawal syndrome and felt as much tummy-satisfied as having white rice.  I went a step further by asking Mummy Edlyn to help me buy a small packet of red quinoa from Australia because it cost slightly lesser over there.  She was so nice to lugged 2 packets for Mummy Christy and myself. 

Though I am keen to continue eating this superfood I am still not sure how best to cook it so that it is both tasty and flavorful.  It will be great if I am able to make them into dishes that are so delicious that I can win the boys over to my side of the fence thus giving up on white rice!  For my first step I have set up a pinterest board DinoMama's Collection of Quinoa Recipes so that I can try out the recipes and hopefully accomplished my goal of substituting white rice completely with quinoa. 

After reading about the wonderful benefits of quinoa, are you interested or excited to start a journey to include them in your diet?  Join me in this journey then!


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