Easy to Make, Easy on the Budget

This month’s mouth tip is really kind of a miracle food. It is so simple to make…and fast. It is extremely versatile; you can use it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; you can have it sweet or savory; it can be a side dish or the main attraction.

What is this miracle food? Quinoa. Pronounced “keen-wa,” this grain is rich in fiber and protein.  Okay, officially, scientifically, it isn’t a grain because it doesn’t grow as a grass. But, that is the closest thing I can think of and how most people actually refer to it…and how most people use it.

Quinoa has very high level of protein, 12-18%, which means you can eat it without meat and have a meal. Whether you want to become a vegetarian or not, it can be good for our bodies and the earth for us to have a meat free meal once in a while. The essential amino acids are balanced in quinoa unlike in grains such as rice or wheat, which makes it a “complete protein” meaning you don’t have to add other foods to it.

Quinoa is also gluten-free, so if you can’t tolerate wheat, this is a good dish for people with celiac disease.

Quinoa is also low on the Glycemic Index meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar when you eat it!

One serving of quinoa is 1/4C (dry) and contains approximately 6 gm of protein.

Cooking quinoa is really quite simple and takes only about 20 minutes. So you get a good healthy grain with a lot less time and effort than rice. You can cook it in a pan on the stove or in a rice cooker.

On the stove, use 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa…so if you are using 1 C quinoa, add 2 C water. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer about 15 minutes. The test for doneness is seeing that the grains have become transparent.

The flavor of quinoa is mild, slightly nut-like, which allows for its versatility. You can cook it in vegetable stock rather than water or add vegetables after cooking. And if you enjoy meat, you can certainly add some of that, but you don’t need to.

Add yogurt or a little fruit and you have a nice, hearty breakfast cereal. This suggestion from the Quinoa Corporation for hot breakfast cereal is bring 2 C water to a boil, add 1 C quinoa, reduce heat and simmer the quinoa for 5 minutes, add ½ C thinly sliced apples, 1/3 C raisins, ½ tsp cinnamon and simmer until the water is absorbed. Serve with milk or cream and sweeten to taste with honey or brown sugar. Personally, I don’t find it needs any sweetener.

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