Food Tips: Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced "keen-whah") has more protein than any other grain or seed and offers a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies can't make on their own. It's also a great source of calcium and is high in lysine, the B vitamins and iron. The seed is easy to digest and gluten-free.

You'll usually find quinoa in its tan or yellow form, though it comes in many colors: orange, red, pink, purple and black. They all work and taste great in dishes. Stored in an air-tight container in the fridge, quinoa keeps for several months.

It may seem foreign, but cooking quinoa is simple. First, rinse the quinoa. It has a natural soapy coating that helps protect the seed from pests, but there's no need to eat it. To clean, just place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse with cold water for a minute or two.

Next is the cooking. Use one part quinoa to two parts liquid. Plain water works fine, but experiment with a vegetable or chicken broth for extra-low-calorie flavoring. Place both the quinoa and the liquid in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let the seeds cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed, the seed is translucent and the germ is partially detached (it will look like a little feather or spiral).

Quinoa works great in savory side salads, can be mixed into veggie burgers, it makes a great hot breakfast cereal (just add a little to your oatmeal) and substitutes well for rice in stir-frys.

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