By COSHANDRA DILLARD
Quinoa. People who try it love it. These tiny ancient grains provide a good source of protein and amino acids. It's also gluten-free, an important factor for people who have celiac disease or have a sensitivity to gluten.
One serving -- 1/4 cup -- has 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. It's also a source of iron and calcium.
Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wah," has a creamy texture when cooked and can be eaten by itself with a little salt, herbs and spices or added to salads and casseroles. It may be tan, black or red.
"It's very, very good," said Jennie Hammerbacher, a registered dietitian and clinic manager at Northeast Texas Public Health District. "It's actually a seed, but it's prepared like rice or barley. It doesn't take as much time to cook. It's hearty and satisfying."
Mrs. Hammerbacher said it's a perfect dish for a meatless meal. For people trying to steer clear of rice or other starchy foods, it can be an alternative. But compared to a bag of rice, it is costly. A one-pound bag purchased at a local store costs $4.25.
However, Mrs. Hammerbacher said quinoa gives people "more bang for their nutritious buck."
"Because of the cost, some people are a little apprehensive about paying more even though it's going to last for a while and you won't eat as much," she said.
As more people try a variety of foods, quinoa has been one gaining popularity.
"I think people are looking for options: What other options do we have to be healthy? It is recommended in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to eat more whole grains, and this is one way for people who are looking for alternatives to rice and white bread," Mrs. Hammerbacher said.
How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly
If you are working with unrinsed quinoa, you want to start off by soaking your quinoa. You can soak for an hour or more without a negative impact but 15 minutes will do the trick. After soaking, rinse for two or three minutes in a fine metal strainer. If you do not have a colander that is fine enough, you can line your regular colander with cheesecloth to get the job done. If you are using pre-rinsed quinoa, you can skip this step.
Add one part quinoa to 1.25 parts liquid. As always, choose the liquid that best suits the dish you are making. Depending on the add-ins you are using, you may or may not use a bit more liquid. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low. Cover and cook for between 30 and 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for an additional five minutes. Fluff and serve. Quinoa is now ready to be added to stir fry recipes or black bean recipes. Options are endless.
Source: Courtesy of www.cookingquinoa.net/how-to-cook-quinoa-perfectly.