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Cooking Quinoa--Basic Facts

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Quinoa -Gluten Free Superfood
Healing Foods Links-Gluten Free
September 30, 2009, Updated October 1, 2009

By Maria DeSalvo, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist


Quinoa, the gluten free grain from South America, is one the
underappreciated discoveries of the food industry. There are
over 1800 varieties of the quinoa grain--called "quinua" in
the Andea mountain regions of Bolivia, Peru and Chile,
where has been cultivated for over 5000 years.  In these
Andean regions, quinoa was eaten principally by the poor
descendants of the Inca who once dominated South
America, who found that quinoa was a protein substitute for
the more expensive meat and poultry. It is a hearty plant, at
home in the arid, unforgiving slopes of the Andes mountains.

A Gluten Free Food

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain which cooks very much like rice
or pilaf, with one big difference. Quinoa's grain is
surrounded by a waxy resin called saponin, which tastes
bitter and makes soap suds in water.

Before you can use quinoa in any of the recipes on this site,
you should therefore wash it beforehand.  A thorough
soaking for 15 minutes to half an hour, turning it with your
hands as you would do beans should do the trick.























How to Store Quinoa

Store quinoa in a  dry place at room temperature. Once you
have opened the bag or box of quinoa, store it in a glass
container with a screw on lid, much as you would rice or
macaroni. This will keep bugs from infecting your supply.

How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa cooks in about the same way as rice or pilaf. In my
experience, I've found that you should allot about 20
minutes for cooking over a medium boil. Taste the quinoa to
see if it is soft with the texture of rice about 15 minutes into
your boil.

Some readers have written in to ask whether they should
slat their water as many people do when cooking rice. I
personally do not salt my water, since I try to
keep my blood
pressure down. The absence of salt in my boiling water does
not make the taste of the quinoa disappointing at all.

I also do not add  butter to my boil, as some others of you
do with rice.

Toward the very end of my boil, when the water is almost
boiled off, I do like to add a teaspoon of extra virgen olive
oil. I do this because I simply like the taste and it seems to
help the quinoa to absorb the flavors f baked chicken or
lamb when I mix it with these meats. You can skip this step if
olive oil doesn't suit your taste or diet.

To Strain or Not to Strain

Like pasta, rice or beans, quinoa can retain a film after
cooking, depending on which of the 1800 varieties of quinoa
you are cooking. As a rule, I prefer to strain my quinoa. Pour
it in a sieve and run hot water over it after you cook it and
before you add olive oil or spices. It truly improves the taste.

Find out more facts about quinoa ,delicious quinoa recipes
and other healing foods:  
Quinoa Recipe Directory  / Quinoa
-The New Superfood/Healing Foods

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