Quinoa-do you know what it is?
Quinoa (pronounced keh-NO-ah or, sometimes, KEEN-wa), is a food item not common in most households. Quinoa isn't a cereal. It's a seed that is eaten like a grain; it is more easily digestible than corn, wheat, rye, ragi and jowar. It is popular in Mexican countries like jowar for us in India. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas." Just fyi, Incas is an empire in South America. Quinoa has been eaten continuously for 5,000 years by people who live on the Andean mountain plateaus and in the valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. In US it is commonly found in most health-food stores and in some supermarkets. Seeds are usually covered with bitter compounds that must be removed before consumption, so must be washed before cooking. For basic cooking, first you need to rinse thoroughly and cook quinoa as it says on the package (1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water) usually for 12 -15 minutes. Cooked quinoa is fluffy and creamy.
My son brought this food item first into our family. Initially I was very hesitant to start because of the nutty flavor. I then started to add spices to it and prepared more tasteful. Now it’s more than just a breakfast item in our house. I use quinoa almost like a substitute to rice; prepare more like mixed rice (vangibath or pulao). My Google searches led to me to experiment with quinoa and customize with Indian spices.
While the taste of quinoa is good, it also has nutritional values. Quinoa provides many essential amino acids, loaded with good source of minerals and has high protein content. The Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations says it is so nutritious it can be substituted for mother's milk. Quinoa is generally not a widely adapted crop due to temperature sensitivity. Some of the facts in cultivating quinoa, it takes 4 - 5 days for the seeds to germinate into seedlings, 90 - 120 days to harvest. We get approximately one pound of grains from 10 plants. Quinoa has bountiful of health benefits. It may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis; help avoid from gall stones, protect heart against heart disease, helps substantially lower type II diabetes risk. There is a caution to take quinoa, if you are on oxalate-restricted diet. With the entry of quinoa into my pantry, I need to experiment more with it.
Simple Quinoa breakfast recipe:
1 cup cooked quinoa (as per package instructions) and simmer it down in few spoons of milk; add dried nuts and blueberry or banana slices, touch it with honey. Or, if you have spicy tooth like me, add your favorite curry powder to the 1 cup cooked quinoa while still warm and serve it.