Monday, July 12, 2010


I HATE cooked cereal, especially cooked oatmeal. I’ve tried, I really have, but it’s useless. Growing up, my mom made cooked cereal (several different varieties) and it made me gag. I made it for my husband and kids. We tried many different kinds. They all ate it but it is still a no-go for me. I never let my kids know that I thought it was the most disgusting thing ever. But I did. And I do.

Enter Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah). I had read so many good things about this unique grain and wanted to give it a try. I’ve found several recipes and just kept coming back to this recipe called Quinoa for Breakfast. I got brave. I just made a little portion thinking I wouldn’t waste that much when I threw it out. Guess what? I loved it. It wasn’t like your ordinary, goopy, gooey, slimy, no taste or texture oatmeal. It had texture and was very good. It tasted a little like granola with a more fine texture. Finally I can eat cooked cereal for breakfast.

Don’t let me lead you to think that Quinoa is just for breakfast. It is a grain that can be used in place of rice or pasta. In salads, soups, stews, casseroles, side dishes, pilaf, as a cereal or in a pudding. Quinoa can be substituted for almost any grain in any recipe. I had another recipe where Quinoa was used in place of pasta, but I lost it. It's floating around in cyber space. When I find it again, I'll post it. Here is the breakfast recipe.

Quinoa for Breakfast
(Makes one generous serving)
¼ c. quinoa
¼ t. cinnamon
½ c. milk for cooking (more for serving)
Generous pinch of sea salt
1 whole date
3 dried apricots
Pecans or almonds
½ T. honey
¼ t. vanilla
Put quinoa in a mesh strainer and rinse well. In a small saucepan over medium heat stir together quinoa and cinnamon. Add milk and bring to a boil. Stir in salt. Lower heat to simmer; cover saucepan and let simmer about 15 minutes. Finely chop dates and apricots. Once milk is almost fully absorbed into quinoa, add honey, vanilla, dates and apricots and nuts. Mix thoroughly. Serve in individual dishes with additional milk. Note: This would also be good with raisins, dried cranberries, or any chopped fresh fruit that you like.

Below are some interesting facts about Quinoa. Give it a try!
1. The Incas called it the "mother grain" and revered it as sacred.

2. The seeds are tiny and flat with a pointed oval shape and look like a cross between a sesame seed and millet. It takes about 3 grains of Quinoa laid end to end, to equal the size of one grain of rice.

3. Quinoa is gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative grain for those with gluten sensitivity, and supplying variety and good nutrition to any diet.

4. As it cooks, the outer germ around each grain twists outward forming a little white, spiral tail, which is attached to the kernel. The grain itself is soft and delicate and the tail is crunchy which creates and interesting texture combination and pleasant "crunch" when eating the grain. Quinoa is fluffy and has a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor.

5. Before cooking, the seeds must be rinsed to remove their bitter resin-like coating, which is called saponin. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use to remove any of the powdery residue that may remain on the seeds. The presence of saponin is obvious by the production of a soapy looking "suds" when the seeds are swished in water. Placing quinoa in a strainer and rinsing thoroughly with water easily washes the saponin from the seeds. In South America the saponin which is removed from the quinoa is used as detergent for washing clothes and as an antiseptic to promote healing of skin injuries.

6. Quinoa is high in protein, calcium and iron; a good source of vitamin E and several B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa's protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a child’s protein needs for one day.

7. Quinoa cooks very quickly, in only 15 minutes. Uncooked seeds may be added to soups and stews as you would barley or rice and quinoa is often substituted for rice in rice dishes. Dry roasting quinoa in a pan or in the oven, before cooking will give a toasted flavor, and it can be cooked in fruit juice to add character to the flavor for use as a breakfast cereal or in desserts.

8. Cold salads consisting of quinoa and chopped vegetables or cooked beans make a quick, easy, and nutritious dish.

9. Quinoa seeds can be sprouted and eaten in salads and sandwiches. To sprout the seeds, soak about 1/3 cup seeds in a jar for 2 to 4 hours, then drain and rinse the seeds twice a day for 2-4 days. When the sprouts are about 1 “ long, place them near a window for chlorophyll to develop, which will give them a vibrant green color.

10. Another fascinating way of using quinoa is to "pop" the seeds in a dry skillet and eat them as a dry cereal.

11. Quinoa should be stored in a cool dry place. It is not a long term storage item, only about a year, but if dry packed it will keep well for some time. Once it is opened, it should be stored in the fridge.


Jamie Moon said...

You tell me this now?! You were the one who made oatmeal stick to my ribs!! :)

Jenny said...

Oatmeal stuck to Jamie's ribs?

Not a big fan of regular ol' oatmeal myself, and it seems like doctoring it up takes more sugar than I can feel good about consuming for breakfast. Callie, on the other hand, LOVES when I buy the Quaker oatmeal. (I actually buy the generic brand-let's be real here). She'd eat it for every meal if I'd let her, but because of the high sugar content it doesn't happen often.

I've been hearing about Quinoa for a while and want to try it.