Quinoa – The Miracle Grain


One of the great things about the US is our rich heritage of cultural cuisine.  As each successive wave of immigrants arrived they bring with them new and exiting foods and ways to cook them. The recent influx of Hispanic immigration has been no exception. In addition to such familiar fare as tacos, tamales and burritos we have been blessed with the lowly grain quinoa.

Quinoa is native to South America and was first domesticated almost 6,000 years ago in the Andes. Since then it has spread to all of the America’s and has become a staple in the diet of those regions.  Among all grains, quinoa has the highest levels of protein (12%–18%) of any grain. This makes it a great choice for vegetarians and vegans.  A good source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron, it is also gluten-free making it easy to digest and a perfect food source for people who have wheat allergies.

If it sounds took good to be true; it’s not. And best of all, it has a wonderful nutty flavor and cooks up nice and fluffy making it a perfect substitution for white rice or couscous. Available in health food stores and specialty markets quinoa can be prepared as a main dish, side dish or even a breakfast cereal. But don’t take our word for it. Check out some of the great recipes we’ve received over the years at Recipe4Living.

Quinoa Pilaf
Quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH) is a delicately flavored grain, native to South America, found in most health food stores. It is high in protein and fiber.


1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1/2 C. quinoa
1 C. hot water or stock
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. lemon zest
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 C. frozen green peas, thawed
 Ground black pepper to taste


Pour oil into a medium saucepan, and place over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots; cook and stir for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Using a strainer, rinse quinoa under cold water. Drain well. Stir into the vegetables; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add water, bay leaf and lemon rind and juice; bring to boil. Cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

Discard bay leaf. Stir in peas, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Yield: 3 servings

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