Stocking up with as much protein reserves is probably your first consideration when it comes to food saving and storage. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is one of the best grain options because not only it is super high in protein but it is very versatile in its uses.
It can be cooked and used like rice or ground into flour to make breads and pastries… while providing super high amounts of protein. One cup of cooked quinoa has 12 grams of protein! 1 cup of quinoa flour has 16 grams of protein!
Quinoa can also be sprouted and used as a tasty salad green. Sprouted quinoa is a rich source of dietary fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.
Quinoa is perhaps one of the most perfect non-animal sources of protein on the planet. What makes quinoa unique is that it is a plant based source of complete protein. “Complete” means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that are crucial to human function and health.
The amino acid lysine in particular is crucial for repairing the body and bringing recovery to your body. It also contains magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus and manganese, which is pivotal in activating enzymes vital to efficiently metabolizing carbohydrates and cholesterol. Manganese is also vital to bone development and maintenance.
It is also a food that has a low glycemic index. Quinoa carbohydrates are slow releasing which means that it satisfies your hunger for longer. For diabetics this is ideal as you can maintain the correct blood sugar levels for longer with high level carbohydrates such as quinoa. It is also one of the few grains that are alkalizing which is great for people who are trying to increase their body pH level to become more alkaline.
Quinoa is also gluten free and is considered to be an excellent alternative to other grain foods like wheat that contribute to the growth of candida. Candida is a “bad bacteria” that causes or contributes to a range of health problems, most notably digestion and elimination issues in the human body.
Wheat is probably the worst grain you could stock up on as wheat contains high amounts of gluten which promotes inflammation in the body and also causes the gut to become leaky – the gluten increases a chemical called Zonulin, which opens the gaps between cells in the lining of the GI tract…the more wheat a person eats, the more leaky their gut gets.
The only difference between someone with Celiac Disease and a healthy person is that the effects of the increased Zonulin last longer and thus cause the body to become sensitized to the gluten and then the person not only has leaky gut, but they also have a destructive immune response to the gluten.
But a normal healthy person still gets a leaky gut for a few hours after eating wheat. Leaky gut predisposes to the development of all sorts of other problems (bacterial imbalance, yeast overgrowth, food allergies, etc.) and it can deplete the immune system and lead to the development of other autoimmune diseases, etc.
Most LLMD’s who recommend a wheat-free diet do so because of the inflammation wheat promotes. Non-organic wheat is also completely saturated with heavy duty pesticides (poison) and is also, in most cases, genetically modified as well. If you do go with wheat despite the gluten issues you should definitely only use organic wheat.
Quinoa is a favorite of vegans for this reason. The vegan diet often can fall short of protein, especially complete protein sources, and quinoa fills this void quite nicely. Not only is quinoa excellent for vegans, but it is also a wonderful option for those that follow a gluten free diet, since it is completely gluten free.
While quinoa is considered by most people to be a grain because it cooks up much like a grain would, it is actually a seed. When cooked, it has a wonderful nutty sort of flavor and is noted for the fine white string-like casing that is visible only when fully cooked.
How Do You Cook Quinoa?
You cook quinoa exactly as you would cook brown rice. The measurements are two parts water to one part quinoa. For instance, if you were cooking 1 cup of dry quinoa, you would cook it in 2 liquid cups of water. It usually takes about twenty minutes to fully cook once the water comes to a boil.
You want to be careful not to overcook it, as it can become soft and lose its shape if cooked for too long. The flavor also suffers if it is overcooked.
Quinoa can also be ground into flour and used for making breads, pastries, pancakes and such.
Below is a couple of recipes I’ve used for making quinoa flatbread and yeast free loaves of bread. Quinoa is a very nice tasting grain for breads, pancakes and pastries and works great for gravies as well.
Here’s my recipe for quinoa flatbread:
If you have a grain mill you can grind the quinoa grain into flour and this is a nice tasting flour too. This recipe is also quick and easy and doesn’t take a lot of time or talent…it’s sort of like making pancakes….well it’s actually exactly like making pancakes….but in the oven…although you could probably do this in a pan on the stove too although I haven’t tried that yet.
And what’s great about flatbread is that there’s a huge variety of things that you can put on flatbread…just think of it as regular bread that you eat open-faced.
(Grapeseed and coconut oil are the two best oils for cooking with because they can both go up to nearly 500 degrees before breaking down. When an oil breaks down it changes molecular structure and becomes a harmful substance…a bad oil for the body… not the good oil that the body needs. So stick with either grapeseed or raw coconut oil for cooking…you can easily find both of these oils at any natural health food store or online.)
1 1/2 cups filtered purified water
2 cups organic whole grain quinoa flour
1/2 tsp. Rumford brand (non-aluminum) baking powder
Mix first three ingredients
Add in flour and baking powder (mix well to smooth pancake-like batter consistency)
Heat the oven to 375 and put your baking sheet, or griddle in there to heat up for about 10 minutes (15 if you’re using soapstone). You can also use a soapstone baking pan, which is my favorite option, as soapstone is non-porous and holds temperature very evenly. Soapstone pots and pans retain heat better than any other type of material and are incredibly energy efficient. I find though with the soapstone that I do need to lightly grease the pan before I use it for the flatbread.
And since soapstone is also non porous it doesn’t absorb bacteria and food doesn’t stick to the pan as much making cleaning incredibly easy with no harsh scrubbing or cleaning agents needed. I LOVE cooking with soapstone but love the easy cleanup even better…and it’s a great alternative to teflon pots and pans as teflon emits toxic gases when heated to anything above low heat. Here’s where I got my soap stone griddle, however, anything you currently have on hand will work…you don’t need to go buy something fancy just for this recipe.
Spoon the batter onto your baking sheet into the size and shape you prefer and to your desired thickness. When the top appears to have a slightly dry or bubbly appearance, flip it over with a spatula and cook the opposite side. It takes only a couple of minutes each side so don’t wander off too far while it’s baking.
Note: You can add more water or more flour for desired consistency…but play around with it and see for yourself.
And that’s it! You now have a yeast free, alkalizing flatbread that’s super high in protein!
Here’s my recipe for yeast free quinoa bread (loaf style):
3 cups quinoa flour
1 cup organic rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 1/2 cups filtered purified water
2 egg whites
Mix liquids and dry ingredients separately; then combine and mix well.
Place in a greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan or completely line the pan with unbleached parchment paper.
Bake at 375F (middle rack of pre-heated oven) for 50 – 55 minutes.
When bakers pick comes out clean and top is light to medium brown, bread is ready to cool on a rack. Let cool in pan for at least 1/2 hour. Do not cut bread until completely cooled.
So I have to say up front this bread makes amazing toast but it’s a little heavy as regular bread. I toast it twice then put on my toppings. It has a nice nutty flavor and is very filling.
Once you’ve purchased your quinoa, you have to make sure you store it properly. With proper storage, you can keep quinoa for up to a year or longer. Here are some tips to ensure proper storage:
- If you bought in bulk, transfer the quinoa to smaller containers in batches. This ensures that the batch that isn’t in use will not receive unnecessary exposure to air.
- Use air tight containers to store your quinoa. Either plastic or glass containers will work fine.
- Mark the date of purchase on the containers. Also indicate the best before date stamped on the original packaging.
For the batches of quinoa that aren’t going to be used any time soon, keep them in the refrigerator. The container of quinoa in use can be stored at room temperature, away from too much moisture and humidity.
You can also grow quinoa quite easily!
The quinoa you buy from the supermarket can also be grown in your backyard garden. In the Andean region where they have been cultivated for millennia, quinoa is planted in extreme conditions of cold, drought and salty and alkaline soils and survives where very few others can. The quinoa is quite versatile and you can bet that it can thrive in less extreme environments, such as in your backyard.
Most people think that quinoa are grains and grow the same way that wheat and rice do. But actually, quinoa belongs to the grass family. In North America, pigweed and lamb’s-quarters are their closes relatives. Yes, weeds! Aside from the seed, the leaves of the plant can also be used to provide a nutritious and delicious fare….sort of tastes like spinach.
When growing quinoa, it is important to pay attention to the things that it needs to thrive. It requires very little to survive, and once planted, they practically grow themselves. Here are some things you should prepare:
- Quinoa seeds can be planted in almost any type of soil. Regular garden soil will produce plants that are about 4 to 6 feet tall, while rich soil or compost can see plants of over 8 feet in height. Well draining soil is ideal. Avoid clay soils.
- Quinoa prefers cool climates. They are best grown in places where the temperature does not exceed 32C or 90F.
- Plant quinoa in a location where it can receive full sun.
- Quinoa is best planted in the early spring. Put seeds in a shallow seed tray. Once the seedlings have sprouted, move them to the ground and plant them in rows with 50cm in between seedlings to allow each one enough room to grow.
- Your quinoa plants will not require a lot of water. In fact if your soil has good moisture retention, you can plant your seeds at the beginning of spring, and water next only when the plant has 2 or 3 leaves. As the plant matures, it will require even less watering. This is because the leaves will have shaded the soil, and cause an even lower rate of evaporation.
- Initially, your plant will grow slowly, so make sure the soil you plant them on is free from weeds. At this initial stage of slow growth, they can be easily choked by fast growing weeds. But once the crop reaches a height of about 1 foot, it will grow rapidly, and will probably even block the sun out, which should destroy the competition.
The nice thing about quinoa is that the seed itself is coated with saponin, making the seed taste bitter. This deters pests and birds from feeding on them. The leaves may be susceptible to aphids though, and other pests that feed on leaves, like caterpillars.
It takes about 90 to 120 days for the quinoa crop to be ready for harvesting. You’ll know when the crop is ready to be harvested when you see the leaves fall, exposing the dried seed heads. At this point, as long as your seed heads are completely dry, you need not worry about frost harming your quinoa. If your quinoa is still green or is still moist, you might consider harvesting them early and then letting them dry to avoid being damaged on the stalk.
It’s very easy to harvest quinoa even without any special equipment. An energetic shaking of the stalk should easily release the seeds. Put the seeds in a container and “winnow” it to get rid of dirt and pieces of leaves or stalk. To winnow it, one technique is to pour it from one container to another and simply allowing the wind to blow away and separate the dirt from the seeds.
Before storing the quinoa seeds, you have to make sure it is completely dry. Damp seeds can germinate when stored. Leave the seeds out in the sun for a couple of days and then store them in airtight containers….or if you have a dehydrator you can put them in there.
Before cooking the quinoa seeds, be sure to rinse them several times until the rinse water is no longer soapy and cloudy. Repeated rinsing removes the saponin, which coats your quinoa and gives it a bitter taste.
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