Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 28, 2015

Kay’s Cooking Corner

Quinoa - nothing to laugh at but the name

Hubby and I, along with two other couples, went to Jason’s Deli to eat lunch after church not long ago. Jason’s Deli is always good and always crowded, but the food helps us to completely forget the latter fact and just pile in with everyone else.

One of the food items I love – the Quinoa Shrimp and Mango Salad, is the recipe today. Before you think it sounds too weird for you, just give it a try. You’ll be changing your mind. It’s really tasty.

I found the recipe on the Jason’s Deli website (www.jasonsdeli.com). They also have a video showing you how to make it, but it’s really not difficult.

Whole Foods considers quinoa (KEEN-wah) one of the healthiest foods grown. Following is some of the nutrient and health facts quinoa provides. If you have never researched this grain, then check out what I found out about it. Again, this information is at www.whfoods.com.

Researchers have recently taken a close look at certain antioxidant phytonutrients in quinoa, and two flavonoids – quercetin and kaempferol – are known to be provided by quinoa in especially concentrated amounts. In fact, the concentration of these two flavonoids in quinoa can sometimes be greater than their concentration in high-flavonoid berries like cranberry or lingonberry.

The processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to compromise the quality of quinoa’s fatty acids, allowing us to enjoy its cooked texture and flavor while maintaining this nutrient benefit. Food scientists have speculated that it is the diverse array of antioxidants found in quinoa – including various members of the vitamin E family like alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol, as well as flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol – that contribute to this oxidative protection.

Quinoa is a good source of fiber – one of the key macronutrients needed for health blood sugar regulation. It also provides outstanding protein quality. Because chronic, unwanted inflammation is also a key risk factor for development of type 2 diabetes, the diverse range of anti-inflammatory nutrients found in quinoa also make it a great candidate for diabetes risk reduction.

Because quinoa is typically consumed in the same way as the cereal grasses (wheat, oats, barley, and rye), we group it together with those foods on our website. However, quinoa is not a cereal grass at all, but rather a member of the same food family that contains spinach, Swiss chard, and beets.

Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet also slightly crunchy, and they sometimes have a translucent appearance. The flavor of the cooked seeds is delicate and somewhat nutty.

Most quinoa consumed in the United States comes from South America. Peru remains the largest commercial producer, with Bolivia the second largest.

Some commercial quinoa production takes place in the United States. The Colorado Rockies are a place of interest for quinoa production, along with some production in California, Washington, and Oregon.

Quinoa is available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just make sure the bins are covered and that the store has a good product turnover to ensure maximal freshness. Store quinoa in an airtight container. It keeps longer, approximately three to six months, when stored in the refrigerator.

Tips for preparing quinoa

Processing methods used in the commercial milling of quinoa usually remove most of the saponins found in the outer coat of the quinoa seeds. Because the quinoa saponins are largely responsible for its bitter taste, many people chose to rinse and rub the seeds after purchase to remove any bitter taste that may remain in the seeds. An effective method is to place the quinoa seeds in a fine-meshed strainer and run cold water over the quinoa while gently rubbing the seeds together in your hands. After rinsing, taste a few seeds to determine if a bitter taste remains. If it does, simply repeat rinsing and rubbing until you no longer taste a bitter residue.

Cooking quinoa

To cook quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. After bringing to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to simmer. One cup of quinoa usually takes 15 minutes to prepare. When cooking is complete, the grains become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail. If you desire the quinoa to have a nuttier flavor, you can dry roast it before cooking. To dry roast, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir constantly for five minutes.

Quinoa is a perfect food to include on a gluten-free diet since it not only lacks gluten but doesn’t even belong to the same plant family as wheat, oats, barley, or rye.

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.   

Quinoa Shrimp and Mango Salad

Organic field greens

Grape tomatoes

Chopped green onions

Lemon wedge

Bob’s Red Mill organic tri-color quinoa, cooked and cooled

Baby shrimp, cooked and cooled

Chopped mango

Pico de gallo

Pickapeppa Spicy Mango Sauce

Cilantro, chopped

Avocado, quartered

Prepare the quinoa and the shrimp as directed. Allow to cool. When cooled, combine the quinoa, shrimp, mango, green onions, Pico de gallo, mango sauce and cilantro in large bowl.

Plate the greens and tomatoes. Pile a large helping of the quinoa mixture on top of the greens. Place avocado and lemon alongside the quinoa. Serve immediately.