Boost your health with quinoa

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I have a new favorite grain, actually a seed. If you haven’t tried quinoa you’re missing out on a great addition to your efforts at healthy eating.

Quinoa is worth taking note of because it is a complete protein, providing a source of all nine essential amino acids, in the correct proportions, to support a your nutritional needs.

This rarely happens with a plant-based food, which is why you see many cultures combining rice and beans to make a complete protein.

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People usually obtain their complete protein from meat, poultry or dairy, however these are obviously not an option for vegans and vegetarians. Also, in terms of the resources needed to produce the protein, it’s much easier and cheaper to grow a pound of quinoa than a pound of beef.

Several different varieties of quinoa exist, but the most common type is white quinoa, which has a fluffy texture and a nutty flavor. A red quinoa has a more pronounced nutty flavor. White, red and black are the most common, and they are often sold as a mixture.

I use the same two methods for cooking quinoa that I use to cook rice, either the standard absorption method or the pilaf method. In the standard absorption method you simply simmer one cup of quinoa in 1 1/2 cup of liquid (you can use water,

I prefer chicken broth), covered for about 20 to 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. In the pilaf method, you simply sauté one cup of uncooked quinoa in a little bit of oil, along with some finely chopped onion. Then add 1 1/2 cups of hot stock or water cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. I see on many packages where the ratio is one cup of quinoa to two cups of liquid, this is just to much liquid and leads to soggy quinoa.

Also, be sure you rinse your quinoa before using. Most commercial quinoa has been rinsed, but it has a naturally occurring bitter coating on it that rinses off easily.


Quinoa pilaf

1/4 cup butter

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained well

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock


In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaf. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add your quinoa and stir just until coated. Add whichever stock you are choosing to use. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes, then drain. Discard the bay leaf.

Transfer pilaf to large bowl fluff with a fork and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with parsley or cilantro.


Christina Hall writes a weekly food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at