Who is looking for an alternative gluten free whole grain that is not only high in fiber but also is a good source of protein? Well if this describes you, then I've got a great whole grain for you to try: Quinoa.
I'm guessing one of the biggest deterrents to trying this delicious grain is the name. It's pronounced "Keen-wah" and it's got over 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein in 1 cup cooked. It rings in with about 220 calories per cup, but you're getting lots of good nutrition out of those calories. The other great thing about quinoa is its versatility. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes and is a great replacement for pasta, rice and cous cous.
Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor, but is pretty mild overall and goes great with anything you want to mix it with. The only thing to remember is, you want to make sure you wash it before you cook it. Without doing this, you may find it to be somewhat bitter. Simply place the dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water is clear.
To cook quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. To add more flavor, you can cook the quinoa in low sodium chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. If you're looking for a nuttier flavor, dry roast the quinoa for 5 minutes in a skillet prior to boiling.
Once it's prepared, the rest is up to you!
Make it a cold quinoa salad by adding cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lemon juice, salt, pepper and reduced fat feta and mixing it with either low cal balsamic or vinegar.
You can roast veggies and mix with quinoa, to make a hot version.
For a sweet rendition, try adding dried cranberries, apples, pears, lemon juice and roasted nuts (I would recommend either walnuts or almonds) and serve it for breakfast.
Quinoa can also be a great substitute for your morning oatmeal and can be used as a substitute for most other grains.
Quinoa is one of my most favorite grains, it's so easy to make and tastes delicious no matter what you add to it. The best part is, it's become much more readily available on your grocery store shelves, so keep your eyes open for it next time you go shopping.
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