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Quinoa, a Protein Powerhouse from the Andes

Originally grown in the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America, quinoa (pronounced "keen-wa") was considered the "mother grain" that kept the Incan armies strong and robust. The grain was rediscovered and brought to the U.S. in the Eighties and test grown in Colorado. Today, quinoa is sold in many markets.

Nutritionally charged
Although no single food can supply all of life's essential nutrients, quinoa comes close. One of the more popular "supergrains," it is extraordinarily rich in nutrients, containing up to 50% more protein than most other grains. One of the best sources of vegetable protein in the vegetable kingdom, quinoa has a subtle, smoky flavor. It is a vegetarian source of calcium (26 mg per 1 cup serving), iron (4 mg per serving), and the B vitamins. Quinoa also contains high levels of lysine, an amino acid the body needs to make protein.

A good rinse
Quinoa is coated with a natural repellent, a bitter substance that protects the grain from insects and birds. To avoid a raw or bitter taste, place the grain in a fine strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Drain.

Quinoa pilaf
A quick, delicious side dish. Rinse 3/4 cup quinoa. In large saucepan, saute 3 sliced scallions and 3 minced garlic cloves in 2 tsp. oil over medium heat until tender. Add quinoa and cook 3 minutes. Stir in 2 1/2 cups boiling water, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Stir in 1/3 cup dried cherries and 1/4 cup chopped pecans. Serves 4. [Per serving: 250 calories, 7 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat]

A tiny spiral
During cooking, a fine, white spiral appears around the grain. Expect to see it and enjoy.

Date Posted: 10/20/2000

Date Published: 10/19/2000
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