You’ve probably heard of something called keen-wa, and you’ve seen the word ‘quinoa’. What’s the difference? What’s the same? Why do people talk about them both? Why is it so popular? And how the hell do you cook quinoa?
To cook quinoa is pretty simple. If you can boil water you can cook quinoa. And the bonus is it stores well. Cook a big batch and store it in the fridge for 4 – 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.
Firstly, what’s the difference between keen-wa and quin-o-a? Nothing, just the pronunciation.
What’s the same? Everything else, it’s the same thing.
Why is it so popular? Who knows! Probably an increase in the number of people eating plant based foods, it’s high in protein, easy to cook, it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes, it’s gluten free, it’s not a grain (it’s a seed that is eaten like a grain), it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals, and it’s had some great marketing.
According to Nutrition Data every cup of uncooked quinoa contains 8g protein, 5g fibre, 58% RDA manganese, 30% RDA magnesium, 28% RDA phosphorus, 19% RDA folate and 15% RDA iron amongst other nutrients. Keep in mind, though, that you are unlikely to eat 1 cup of uncooked quinoa in a day.
The ratio is 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa. It’s easy to double it if you’re planning on storing it in the freezer.
You can rinse it and drain it, cook it in veggie broth, add salt and herbs and lemon etc etc, but I’m going to make this as easy as possible.
Let’s start with the basics and worry about the fancy stuff later.
How much does 1 cup of dried quinoa make?
If your maths is any good you may have worked out that you’re storing 3 containers in the freezer, so 1 cup dried quinoa equals 3 cups cooked quinoa.
If the quinoa is still hard and there’s water in the saucepan, continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
If the quinoa is hard and there’s no water left, add another half cup of water and cook for another 5 minutes, repeat if necessary.
If the quinoa is soggy after 15 minutes, then you’ve messed up.
We all do it. But all is not lost. You don’t need to throw it away. You may have put too much water in the saucepan. What I’d do is drain the soggy quinoa and let it cool. Then cook up another cup using less water. When you’ve cooked both batches mix them together and you’ll hardly be able to tell that some of the seeds are too soft.
The beauty of quinoa is you can mix it with anything. You can add it to salads, soups, curries, casseroles, muesli breakfasts, mushrooms, mashed potato, the list goes on.
If you’re planning on adding it to other things you may want to store it in half cup containers so it’s easier to just use what you need.
And, finally, where do I get quinoa from?
It is available in major supermarkets, usually in the ‘health food’ section. You can also order it online at Bulk Whole Foods