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What the H?#$% is Quinoa?

March 8, 2017

 

If you’ve been living under a rock you're more than likely are aware of the incredible gaining popularity of Quinoa.  However, there’s probably a few things about this ancient grain you don’t happen to know yet.

 

Quinoa Isn’t A Grain.  Period

We cook and eat quinoa like a bunch of other grains, and call it a grain on the regular, but technically, it’s a relative of spinach, beets and chard. The part we eat is the seed, cooked like rice, which is why quinoa is gluten-free. FYI - the leaves are edible!


A 1955 paper dubbed quinoa a superstar long before 21st century publications were touting it for its nutritional powers.  That’s because quinoa is what’s called a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which cannot be made by the body and therefore must come from food.

There are somewhere around 120ish  varieties of quinoa, according to the Whole Grains Council. The most commercialized types are white, red and black quinoa. White quinoa is the most widely-available in stores. Red quinoa is more often used in meals like salads since it tends to hold its shape better after cooking. Black quinoa has an “earthier and sweeter” taste. You can also find quinoa flakes and flour.


Those dried seeds are coated with a compound that would taste pretty bitter if you didn’t wash it off first. However, most modern-day packaged quinoa has been rinsed (aka processed), Cheryl Forberg, RD, “The Biggest Loser” nutritionist and author of Cooking With Quinoa For Dummies, writes on her website. Still, she writes, it’s probably a good idea to give yours a rinse before enjoying, just to be safe.

The cooking process releases what looks like a curly “tail” coming from the seed. That’s actually the germ of the seed, according to Forberg’s site, which separates slightly when your quinoa is ready.

 

The best part of quinoa - Nate's Fine Foods supplies it in fully cooked fresh MAP or IQF Forms!

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