Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Mother of All Grains -- Quinoa

Did you know that the 66th session of the UN General Assembly deemed 2013 as The International Year of Quinoa?  Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is known by the indigenous people of Bolivia and Peru, where 90% of the world’s quinoa is produced, as “the mother of all grains” – chisiya mama.  This whole grain is one of few plant foods that provide all 9 essential amino acids in just the right balance and therefore is considered a complete protein.  It also is gluten-free and is a terrific source of potassium, a mineral that helps stabilize blood pressure.  Most quinoa is also Fair Trade and organic.

Quinoa cooks up quickly in just15-20 minutes and works well in a host of different dishes.  You know quinoa is “done” when the white tail, the germ of the kernel, is visible. Consider giving it a try in one of the recipes gleaned from the April 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.  I especially adore the Strawberry Rhubarb Quinoa Pudding and the Sopa de Mani (Quinoa Peanut Soup) is on my list to try, as my husband loves most dishes where peanut butter debuts as an ingredient. To learn more about quinoa and dive into more scrumptious recipes visit the Whole Grains Council website at 

Quinoa Peanut Soup (Sopa de Mani) from Eating Well, April 2013

2 teaspoons canola oil
¾ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
½ cup quinoa
4 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon hot sauce, like Tabasco
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1.   Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 4-5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in carrots, potatoes and quinoa, then add broth and water.   Bring to a boil over high heat.
2.   Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa is cooked and the vegetables are tender, about 18 minutes.  Stir in red pepper and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes more.  Stir in peanut butter until it is combined into the broth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in parsley, hot sauce and pepper.
3.   Serve with cornbread for a delicious meal chalked full of Vitamin C & A.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Quinoa Pudding from Eating Well, April 2013

2-¼ cups water, divided
1-½ cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen
1 cup chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup quinoa
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon, divided
½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.    Combine 2 cups water in a medium saucepan with rhubarb, strawberries, quinoa, cinnamon and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.  Cover and cook until the quinoa is tender, about 25 minutes.  Sir in ½ cup sugar and lemon zest.  Whisk cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup water in a small bowl.  Stir into quinoa mixture, return to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
2.    Remove from heat.  Divide the pudding among 6 bowls.  Refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
3.    Just before serving, combine yogurt, vanilla and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl.  Top each serving with a generous dollop of the vanilla yogurt and fresh strawberries, if desired.

Submitted by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, MPH, RD, CHES
Food & Nutrition Educator

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