Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Meet Whole Foods: Red Quinoa

 Meet: Red Quinoa

What is Red Quinoa?
Red Quinoa is a small grain that originates from South America and is still used there today. The ancient Incan Indians regarded this grain so highly (they called it the mother grain) that the first seeds of each season were sown by the Incan Emporer using a gold shovel! Red Quinoa is Gluten Free and considered easy to digest.

How do I use it?
Red Quinoa can be sprouted, ground into flour or cooked. I'll talk about sprouting grains and seeds in a future installment of Monday: Meet New Foods! To cook red quinoa just add 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa and cook on the stove top for 12 minutes, the electric pressure cooker for 6 minutes, or the stove top pressure cooker for 7 minutes. After cooking, the grain displays a little white thread that curls around it.

Red quinoa expands by four times it's raw size when cooked. Use cooked red quinoa in salads, soups, breads, desserts, or as a meat substitute or extender in main entrees. Red quinoa makes an excellent breakfast cereal.

Where Can I buy it?
The cheapest store that I've seen lately that sells red quinoa is WinCo. I think it was about $5/lb, which is a pretty good buy - I've seen it up at $8/lb! You can also find it in health food stores. I like to buy my quinoa in bulk through a local grain company. I think I paid about $3/lb that way. So shop around. You can usually find a good price.

How healthy is it?
Red quinoa is amazing in that, unlike many grains, it contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This property makes it an excellent grain for vegetarian and vegan diets. It is high in fiber, which is has been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and some types of cancer. It also high in magnesium, folate and phosphorus, which make it a good choice for people with headaches and diabetes. It is high in lysine, which is important for tissue growth and repair. For more information, here is an excellent article about the health benefits of quinoa and here is a chart that lists the nutrition content of quinoa.

Got a Recipe?
Comment with your recipes using red quinoa! Or check out some of mine this week! I hope you enjoy this wonderful grain!

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