Quinoa has been grown in South America for over 5,000 years. The food was considered sacred by the Incas, and was called “ mother grain”. Quinoa was very much intertwined into Incan culture and history.
The ideal growing environment for quinoa is at high elevations, such as in the Andes Mountains. Therefore it is nearly impossible to find the grain as Texas grown. Quinoa can be grown in Canadian prairies, and in the Colorado Rockies, however, most of it comes from South America. The grain can be found as organically grown, and is often available for bulk purchase at local health food stores such as Central Market, Kroger Fresh Fare, and Whole Foods Market.
Quinoa is loaded with nutrients. The tiny ball shaped grain is considered a “complete protein,” which is rare for a plant food. Quinoa complements any diet, especially vegetarian and vegan ones. The food can be eaten hot or cold, and can be used in many different ways.
During the warmer months, a cold quinoa salad is the perfect dish for a picnic or any outdoor meal gathering. The grain goes well with legumes, fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, and oil. It can also be served alongside legumes in wraps or pocket breads, or with tortilla chips.
Quinoa needs to be rinsed or to be briefly soaked before used. A naturally occurring chemical coating on the outside of the grain needs to be removed before consumption, in order for quinoa to be properly digested. A basic guideline for quinoa preparation is to rinse it until the water runs clear. To save water and time, the grain can be soaked while preparing veggies and other ingredients for any quinoa recipe, and then rinsed.
Quinoa cooks similar to rice, and requires 2 cups of water per 1 cup dry quinoa. Once the water reaches a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer until done.
Summer Quinoa Salad
1 lb quinoa
1 large bell pepper, diced
3 meduim tomato, diced
5 cloves garlic or small onion, diced
2 T dry basil, or 4 T fresh, minced
2 T cumin
3 T coconut oil
Sea salt, to taste
Cover quinoa in water, leave to soak
Drain quinoa, rinse till water runs clear
Heat pot to medium
Add coconut oil
Sauté garlic, with care not to burn
Add tomato, bell pepper, sauté 1 min
Add cumin, toss
Add quinoa, toss
Add 5 cups water, basil, stir
Heat to boil
Cover, reduce heat, simmer till done
Once all water is absorbed, toss
Allow to cool