Getting to Know Quinoa

BY Janice Lipman TIMEJanuary 8, 2015 PRINT

If you have never heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), you may soon discover a new favorite staple.  Although quinoa looks like a grain and has similar cooking characteristics, it’s actually the seed of a plant that is related to spinach, chard and beets.

Regarded by the ancient Aztecs as the “mother grain”, the seeds are rich in protein, calcium , iron and are a relatively good source of Vitamin E and some of the B vitamins. Since the protein in quinoa includes all 8 essential amino acids, it is considered a complete protein, making it a great choice for vegans who may not have enough protein in their diets.

So how what does this versatile seed taste like and what can you do with it?  Cooked quinoa is fluffy, a little creamy and a tiny bit crunchy. It has a subtle, slightly nutty taste and can be used in so many different ways.  You can enjoy quinoa sweet or savory. As a breakfast cereal, try mixing in fresh or dried fruit, shredded unsweetened coconut and nuts.  Cold quinoa , combined with lentils (or other beans) and nuts can be added to salads and is a great substitute for rice and other grains. Its delicious served with stir-fried vegetables or used to stuff squash.

Quinoa cooks really quickly – about 15 minutes and can be kept cold in the fridge for a few days. I often cook more than I need so that I can have leftovers to use in a hearty salad the next day.

Quinoa flour is also used to make pasta and a variety of baked goodies such as pancakes, breads, muffins and crackers.

Going gluten-free just got a whole lot easier and tastier too!

Enjoy this delicious recipe from

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

by Jenny Sansouci

  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (any variety)
  • 1/2 package organic tempeh OR 1/2 cup chickpeas (your choice)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (substitute options: pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds)
  • A few splashes of tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • A sprinkle of cayenne
  • A sprinkling of sage on top

Pre-heat oven to 400. Cut your acorn squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds.

Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish and pop into the oven. Bake for 1 hour.

While squash is baking, prepare the stuffing!

Cook quinoa.

Add onions, mushrooms, garlic and tempeh or chickpeas to a pan with either a tiny bit of oil or just a little water and a few splashes of tamari, and a sprinkling of cayenne.

Cook until onions are translucent & all ingredients are starting to brown up a bit.

Add cooked quinoa to onion mixture in pan and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and put into a large bowl.

Add raisins, basil and pine nuts to the quinoa mixture and stir well.

After 45 minutes, remove the squash from the oven and stuff with the stuffing. Cook another 15 minutes with stuffing inside.

When squash is very soft when pierced with a fork, and starts to turn a little golden brown around the edges, you’re ready to eat! Top with sage.

This article was originally published on Read the original here.

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