Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quinoa and Fast Food

I looove to eat out.  Unfortunately it can get expensive, it's really not very healthy, and I sure have trouble keeping my waistline down when I eat out frequently.  And then there is fast know that stuff we grab because we are tired and didn't plan ahead and everyone is already hungry?

One of the areas I'd like to write about on The Lavender Tub is how to get food fast without eating out.  Great tasting, healthy food that lets you keep a little more $ in your pocket and a lot of bad fat and salt out of your body. So, let me introduce you to something called "Quinoa" (pronounced keen-wah).

Quinoa is a lot like rice, but oh so much better.  Like rice, it is a carbohydrate, but it is also a complete protein which means it supplies all 9 essential amino acids, something lacking in fast food diets.  Unlike rice, it is not a grain but rather a seed.  A flower seed that is a relative to green leafy vegetables like spinach and swiss chard.  

I'm sure that did it for most of you!  If it's related to spinach, it has to taste horrible and you will never get your family to eat it, right?  Please stick with me a little longer and see if it isn't worth giving a try.  Quinoa is quick and very easy to prepare.  (I've read that it can be difficult, but I learned from and have never had any trouble.)  Also, you can prepare a large batch and keep in the refrigerator to have instant food whenever anyone is hungry.  It is very satisfying and keeps you satiated longer than carbs, which means you eat less throughout the day, and you can mix it with anything to make it taste great!

Seriously, you can make tabouli, fried rice, mexican rice, hot cereal with cinnamon and sugar, cous cous salad, sushi, cajun rice and beans..... the possibilities truly are endless.  I think if you give it a try, you might be surprised.

To prepare quinoa:

I purchase my quinoa from the health food store in bulk for about $5/lb.  This actually makes quite a bit.

To make a pot (5-6 cups), measure out 2 Cups of dried quinoa into a bowl and cover with tap water.  It is important to let it soak for at least 15 minutes.  You can let it soak for an hour or so, but at least 15 minutes to remove it's bitter, soapy taste.

When it is finished soaking, pour off the water and rinse the quinoa through a fine strainer, shaking off the excess water. When you handle the quinoa, you may find it sticks to your hand like grass does to your feet when you are getting out of the pool, FYI.

Measure your rinsed quinoa into a large pot and add water at a ratio of 1 Cup quinoa to 1.25 Cups water or broth. Based on my measurement, this means you should add just shy of 3.75 Cups of water to the quinoa you just soaked.

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil, then turn down the heat until it is just simmering, cover and cook for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, remove the cover, gently fluff and enjoy. There may be a little sticking to the bottom of your pan, just fluff around it, or eat it.  It is good too.  I leave my quinoa sitting on my cooktop for a couple of hours as I find it reduces the stickiness a bit and improves the texture.  And that is all there is to it.  Very simple.

Here is a fast lunch I eat quite often.  Quinoa topped with some garlic-pepper salt and a sprinkling of cheese.

This is tabouli made with quinoa.  Stay tuned for the recipe in a future post, as well as other recipes made with quinoa.

I'd love to hear what you think.

Thanks for stopping by,



  1. I ADORE quinoa!! We have a fantastic 'bean salsa' recipe that has corn in it and this year I decided to cut the carbs and up the fiber/nutrient value by replacing it with cooked quinoa or millet. I'm making it this weekend for Clare's birthday, so I'll bring a sample portion to you Sunday morning so you can try it!

  2. Which health food store do you go to for your Quinoa? And is this the only place to find it in town?

  3. Honestly, I've only ever prepared quinoa at high altitude and I never managed to get it cooked right. I am very excited to try your method and see how it does! I also usually make it 'plain' and keep it in the fridge for adding/working up into meals. I'll definitely bring the recipe too! Or maybe just email it to you since I've got it on the computer. =) I'm interested to know where to find in here in OK too as I've only bought it at Whole Foods in CO. Which reminds me, did WF open up while I was gone????

  4. You can actually purchase Quinoa at Walmart by the dry beans and rice! We love's great using half water and half chicken stock...thanks:)

  5. Made it by your recipe today and it turned out PERFECT!! I didn't have any broth out of the freezer so I just cooked in water with 1/2 tsp of salt (I only cooked 1 cup of quinoa). It is delicious and perfect texture!! I love cooking at low-altitude! lol

  6. Angela, I usually purchase it at The Health Food Center located at Penn and I-240 in OKC. The price is a little better there. I have also purchased it at both House of Health locations here in Shawnee. Thanks, HENS Mom for your suggestions. I have seen it at Walmart but never purchased it there. I didn't know if it was partially precooked or processed in any way. Also, I have read that if you purchase quinoa that says it is pre-rinsed, you should go ahead and rinse it anyway. Hope this helps. After you try it, let me know what you think of it.

  7. Holly, I'm very excited. It sounds wonderful! You'll have to bring the recipe too. Is this how you prepare your quinoa, or do you have a better method? I just got a rice steamer and will give it a try soon, but this is the method I've used for months. Thanks for commenting, Holly.


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