One of the staple crops of the Andes region, quinoa, recently started to make waves on a global scale. Its worldwide following is thanks to its great taste and its highly nutritious properties. The unusually comprehensive supply of protein can be compared to grains like wheat and rice. Not to mention how it is also rich in amino acid lysine, iron, and other nutrients.
Quinoa’s popularity made it easy to find it in local stores nowadays. And, with easy access to this nutritious, versatile pseudo-grains, experimentations on how to turn it into a healthy snack became widespread, too. So much, so that puffed quinoa instantly rings a bell when you hear the word quinoa.
What Is Quinoa?
Everyone’s talking about the superfood quinoa that almost everywhere there is quinoa salad, quinoa fried rice, and now even quinoa protein shakes. But, what is quinoa, and is it indeed a superfood that it claims to be?
Whole Grains Council identifies quinoa as a gluten-free, whole-grain carbohydrate and whole protein – yes, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids. Yet, many people are still confused about whether it is whole grain or not, so let’s straighten it up.
Technically, the quinoa we all adore is, in fact, a seed from the Chenopodium quinoa plant. Therefore, quinoa is not a grain. Whole grains like oats and barley are seeds obtained from grasses and not plants.
However, the process in how we consume quinoa resembles how we eat whole grains. Consequently, the nutrition world considers it as a whole grain.
We can also get more profound in terms of technicalities and call it a “pseudo-cereal.” Foods prepared and eaten as a whole grain but are botanical outliers from grasses are termed as such. While it may be slightly untrue, it’s best and easy to call it colloquially as a whole grain instead.
Is Quinoa Good For You?
Quinoa’s nutritional profile is not the same as rice’s. If you look at the table below, you can see how it is better than rice in nutritional value.
Although it is essential to enjoy a wide variety of foods, quinoa has undoubtedly more fiber and protein. Thus, head to head, quinoa is a far better choice.
In addition, quinoa is also deemed a safe gluten-free, whole-grain selection for people dealing with celiac disease – a disorder where your body cannot put up with gluten. It is not just perfect for people following a gluten-free diet as it is a complete protein; it is best for vegetarians and vegans, too.
How To Make Puffed Quinoa
One of the easiest ways to turn quinoa into the perfect snack is through the same way we turn whole corn kernels into popcorn – popped or puffed to lighten their texture. Puffed quinoa won’t turn into the big puffy grains we see in cereals’ commercials, but puffing allows it to get that different texture.
Try this incredibly healthy quinoa recipe at home and experience the buzz that quinoa’s been making.
What You Will Need:
½ cup of quinoa
1 tbsp coconut oil
Step 1: Rinsing the quinoa
Quinoa has a natural pest-fighting coating called saponins that gives it a bitter taste that can irritate your stomach. Be sure to rinse the uncooked thoroughly to remove this coating.
Strain your rinsed quinoa. Place them on a baking sheet.
Dry your quinoa by placing it in a 200-degree oven. This drying process may take 10 to 20 minutes or until moisture evaporates from the quinoa.
Step 2: Puffing the quinoa
Place a tablespoon of coconut oil in heavy cast iron or le Creuset and allow it to melt.
Add the dried and rinsed quinoa to the pan.
Continue to move the pan with the lid on until the popping sounds slow--just like popcorn! This step will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Just make sure it doesn’t burn.
One of the best ways to use puffed quinoa is to drizzle some melted butter and garlic to add a savory taste. A little caramel and some chocolate shavings can play it up, too! There are so many ways to turn the simple puffed quinoa into a fun but healthy snack.
How Do You Cook Quinoa?
The preparation of quinoa all depends on the form of quinoa you are cooking. The natural grain itself may take about 15 minutes to cook. The black one may take potentially longer. Quinoa flakes take no more than two minutes to cook, making them the best on-the-go breakfast.
Quinoa works adequately on its own or as a good alternate for rice. You can also toss other ingredients with it. The subtle flavor and its fluffy texture make it easy to spice it up with different flavors. Plus, its mild taste also makes it acceptable to be served savory or sweet.
Cooking with Quinoa
There are three easy ways to cook with quinoa.
Heat it with a bit of olive oil in the pan and savor the subtle and nutty aroma.
Boil the quinoa in water or broth. You may use two parts liquid and one part quinoa in a saucepan. Cover the pan and allow it to boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down and let it finish cooking for 15 more minutes. Add some salt according to taste.
After cooking, take the pot off the stove and rest with the lid for five more minutes. Then, stir thoroughly. Let it sit for another 5 minutes before taking the excess water off.
Quinoa can only be used as a minor component in the dough since it lacks the adhesive protein essential in the baking process. Aside from quinoa flour, whole grain quinoa can also be used for baking, which is processed into breakfast cereal or puffed rice.
Preparing quinoa seeds can be done in different ways, too.
As with most things, it is essential to wash quinoa before cooking. This step lets it expand and allow for the breakdown of the phytic acid it contains. To do this, put the quinoa in a sieve and put it under running water. Then, let it soak in a bowl for no more than 10 minutes. Repeat the first process to rinse it.
The most effective method of breaking down the phytic acid in quinoa is to allow it to germinate. Since the seeds naturally take time to generate, a little preparation and planning are necessary. The first step is to let it soak for 2 to 4 hours. Then, put it in a special germination bag or an empty pot and let it germinate for 12 to 48 hours. After which, rinse the sprouted seeds.
It is best to remember that quinoa may still contain traces of saponin that give off a bitter and soapy taste even when packaged. To be sure that no saponin traces are left, wash the seeds thoroughly before preparing them by simply rinsing them off in a sieve under running water.
Out of the many snacks promising to be healthy, puffed quinoa is the most straightforward, most stress-free, and unbelievably tasty snack. What’s more, is how easily it can be prepared compared to others. Furthermore, you can easily adjust how much of it to take on the servings you prepare.
Another excellent advantage of quinoa puff snacks is how you can store them for at least two weeks on the kitchen counter. Just be sure to keep it in an airtight container. You’re sure to have something handy to top your cereal, salad, or yogurt!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Can you puff quinoa in an air fryer?
A: Not a lot have tried it because its physical structure does not make it feasible. Quinoa seeds are tiny. Therefore, they might obstruct the air fryer’s filter—the same thing with an air popper where quinoa gets thrown off because they are lightweight.
Q: Can you puff quinoa in the microwave?
A: It is a possible and theoretically feasible method. But, the stovetop method remains more reliable and successful.
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