While I love and am passionate about providing my family and others with high quality healthy snack food, outside of work I still have to work to make sure that our family meals are healthy and tasty—and that can be difficult, especially with little ones. While I try to mix it up and make different breakfasts with a lot of fruit, or new easy snacks between meals, changing basic foods we have for most meals is harder and I get so excited when I find a new option—like Quinoa.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is something I had heard a little bit about but not much until one of my friends, a vegetarian, made it for me while I was visiting her house not long ago. I couldn’t figure out what we were eating but it tasted, to me at least, just like rice except with a different texture and consistency. It went in to the stir-fry great too.
Basically Quinoa is a grain, just like rice or wheat that is 100% gluten free. It comes from the Andes Mountains from South America and has been one of the staples of people who live there, along with corn and potatoes, for more than a thousand years. The grains are like tiny balls, smaller than rice, that stick together but can cook in a rice cooker or on the stove just like barely or rice. They also have these tiny little white tails coming out of them (Sunny and Sadie were convinced they were little worms—next time I’ll have to mix it into our stir fry our soup so they don’t notice) which are really stalks that appear when the grain is cooked.
But besides the different taste and texture, a welcome break from endless rice and pasta, I like Quinoa because of what is inside it. Quinoa has more protein than any other grain out there (which is why vegans and vegetarians love it so much) and it is just packed with amino acids, fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamins. Plus you can find it at most grocery stores or your local co-op, although it does tend to run a little bit more expensive than plain rice or pasta.