Making the decision to eat healthy food is easy. Sticking to that decision is another problem. Cooking healthy food can often leave many people stumped. How does one make it taste good? Certainly, the key to sticking to a healthy lifestyle is making sure the food tastes good. One of the holy grails of healthy food is quinoa. But since there are so many grains out there – each with their own method of cooking, it can be confusing to know which the best way to cook it is. This leaves one to wonder how to cook perfect quinoa and make it enjoyable.
When cooked right, quinoa can be really tasty and a fantastic, healthy replacement for the more refined grains. Read on and uncover fail-safe ways for how to cook perfect quinoa every time.
Quinoa: What is it?
Originating in South America and from the Chenopodium quinoa plant, Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-WAH, is actually a seed. Technically, grains are defined as seeds extracted from grasses – barley and oats, for example. So, technically, quinoa is not a grain. However, because we eat it like a whole grain, the nutrition world considers it so.
Considered a superfood, even being called, “the mother grain” by the Inca, quinoa is whole-grain, gluten-free carbohydrate. Additionally, due to the fact that it contains all the essential amino acids, it is considered a whole protein. For such a small thing, it really packs a punch, nutrition-wise.
Nutritional Value of Quinoa
There is more nutritional value in this tiny seed. It offers iron, B vitamins, fiber, magnesium, and other minerals and vitamins. Considering how many nutrients it offers as well as the fact that it is naturally gluten-free, has healthy carbohydrates and is high in protein and low in fat; it’s easy to see why it is a superfood. This makes it an excellent substitute for those who are gluten intolerant or who simply want healthy options to refined grains.
Being so nutrient-dense, quinoa has been known to help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer such as colon cancer; can help lower bad cholesterol levels; and boost digestive health – thanks, of course, to its high-fiber content.
Although consuming a wide variety of foods in your diet is ideal, I\in a head-to-head battle with rice, quinoa wins on the basis that it is a complete protein and has more fiber.
Different Types of Quinoa
Wait, there are more than one? Yes. Quinoa comes in a variety of colors and each one cooks and tastes differently.
- White Quinoa
Also considered ivory or yellow, white quinoa is considered to have a slightly bitter, muted taste and has a fluffy texture after cooking.
- Red Quinoa
Compared to white, red quinoa has a chewier texture and heartier flavor; and retains most of its shape and color after cooking.
- Black Quinoa
Like red quinoa, black quinoa also retains most of its shape and color after cooking but is slightly sweeter than both red and white and has a somewhat crunchy texture.
One look in the grocery store and you can find many variations of quinoa including quinoa flour (a healthy option for baking, quinoa pasta, chips, flakes and even quinoa chocolate.
How to Cook Perfect Quinoa in a Pot
No need to be intimidated by this superfood, cooking quinoa on a stove top is super easy.
- Since quinoa can have a bitter flavor, first rinse it in a fine, mesh colander under cold running water
- Place the quinoa in a pot with the ratio of quinoa to salted water as 1:2. In other words, one part quinoa, two parts salted water.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed or the quinoa is tender
- Fluff with a fork and serve as desired.
How to Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker
If you thought cooking quinoa on the stove top was easy, wait ‘til you see how much easier cooking quinoa in a rice cooker can be.
- In a rice cooker, add one part rinsed quinoa with 2 parts salted water.
- Switch on your rice cooker.
That’s it! Depending on how much quinoa is being cooked and the type of rice cooker you have, cooking time will be approximately 15 minutes. There is a chance that the quinoa at the bottom of the quinoa will be more al dente than the quinoa at the top due to the top being exposed to more steam. However, the difference is minimal and does not bother most people.
How to Cook Quinoa in a Microwave
We are all for a great kitchen hack, and cooking quinoa in a microwave is one of them. With this method, you can have your quinoa ready in just 8 minutes.
- You will need ½ cup quinoa and a ¾ cup of water.
- Rinse quinoa in a mesh colander under running water to remove bitterness
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, place the rinsed quinoa and ¾ cup water
- Cover and microwave for 6 minutes on high
- Remove from the microwave and stir
- Cover and microwave at medium-high for about 2 more minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
- Remove from the microwave, fluff with a fork and serve as desired.
This method may have more steps but it is super easy!
How to Serve Quinoa
Quinoa is a very versatile ingredient to work with and can be served a number of ways, including:
- Breakfast Quinoa: Simply add your favorite fruit, Greek yogurt, nuts and syrup for a yummy start to your day.
- Vegetarian Quinoa Bowl: Toss the cooked quinoa with chopped bell pepper, cooked black beans and top off with shredded cheese.
- Quinoa Tacos: Simply mix your favorite taco ingredients together, replacing rice with quinoa and you’ve got a healthy alternative!
How to Cook Perfect Quinoa: Master the Basics
Cooking perfect quinoa isn’t rocket science. Once you master the basic cooking methods it’s easy to get creative with it; serving it in a number of ways for a tasty, healthy meal that will keep you on track with your health goals.