I’ve been seeing quinoa pop up with increasing frequency in recipes around the blogosphere in the last year or two. It was one of those “other grains” that was supposed to be good for vegans and the gluten intolerant. Well actually, just like cashews are not really nuts, quinoa is not really grain. Both are really seeds. Anyway, I’d never had it, and to show my ignorance, in my head I was pronouncing it KWIN-oh-uh. Yeah, Hooked on Phonics does not work on South American words… It’s actually pronounced KEEN-WAH (according to the box anyway).
Anyway, a buddy of mine was raving about the stuff a few months ago, so I finally remembered to buy a box back in December. And it just kinda hung out in the pantry for a while because I had no idea what to do with it. I thought of it again this week and started searching out recipes and such for some inspiration on how the heck to cook it.
I ran across this fantastic post about how you can cook quinoa in a rice cooker. I am ALL OVER THAT. I love my rice cooker. There is nothing better than measure, dump, add water, turn on, and walk away. It will kick to warm when it’s done. Same reason I adore my crock pot. We are all about things that make life easier here.
So the other night I tried it. Just straight up quinoa and water in the rice cooker. When it was done, I added in some butter and a pinch of garlic powder, paprika, and salt for a bit of flavor. The texture reminded me of a cross between brown rice and tapioca. By itself, it’s pretty bland, but hubby agreed it would probably be good IN stuff as a substitute for rice. So that’s my project for the next little bit, is to try out this stuff in various recipes in place of rice.
So why am I even looking at this? I mean, this stuff is quite a bit more expensive than rice. Well, we’re looking at it from a health and diet standpoint. Quinoa is a fantastic source of vegetable protein (which means that it will keep you fuller longer). It’s good for variety. And stacked up against rice, it works out like this per 1 cup serving:
- white rice-242 calories, 0.4 grams of fat, 4.4 grams of protein, 0 fiber
- brown rice-218 calories, 1.6 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber
- quinoa-222 calories, 4 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 5 grams dietary fiber
I’m a little iffy on the quinoa per 1 cup. This is what came off one of those calorie counting websites. But when I cooked it, I used 1 cup dry quinoa (4 servings) and 2 liquid cups of water and it seemed to make 4 cups cooked (I was eyeballing but it seemed like way more than half a cup of stuff). That quarter cup dry, according to the box, is 172 calories…Maybe I used too much water? Not sure. In any event it’s high protein, high fiber, loaded with nutrients, and definitely worth giving a try. I’ll keep you posted as I put it in new recipes!