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The Sweet and Savory Sides of Quinoa

The following post is from Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free:

Quinoa Pumpkin Seed Granola
source: Amy Green

Have you tried quinoa yet? If you have, what ways have you used it? Have you explored the sweet side of quinoa?

And if you haven’t tried quinoa yet, I want to help you incorporate this gluten-free superfood into your diet.

When I first started eating quinoa about five years ago, I didn’t even know how to properly pronounce the name. For those of you who aren’t quite sure it’s pronounced keen-wah. Simple enough, right?

I’d heard all the buzz and decided to give it a try, and quinoa quickly became a regular on our dinner table.

Though many think it’s a grain, it’s really a power-packed seed that hails from the spinach and beet family. Quinoa is a complete source of protein, which makes it a staple in many vegan diets, is easy to digest, and is a good source of healthy fats. Because of this, it’s a great food to include in children’s diets. My 15-month old, Nate, takes handfuls and scoops it right into his cute little mouth.

Quinoa is a no-brainer for busy nights. Instead of brown or wild rice, which takes about 50 minutes to cook, I can have a pot of quinoa ready in about 20 minutes. Stove-top cooking is simple – one part quinoa to two parts liquid, cover, boil, reduce to a simmer until the liquid is absorbed. It doesn’t boil over like rice tends to, either. Make sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking – it has a natural, bitter coating called saponin.

Last night I made Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Quinoa to go with our grilled chicken. I chopped up about 1/4 cup of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes and added a teaspoon or so of dried basil, a little salt and pepper, and finished it off with a little Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread. I can add anything to quinoa that I would have added to a pot of rice.

You can also find quinoa in flour form, for baking, and in flakes, which is prepared similar to oatmeal. I personally love the flavor of the flour, but it does have a stronger flavor than the whole seed itself. Try mixing it with other gluten-free flours.

Quinoa makes incredible desserts as well. One of my favorites is Baked Quinoa Pudding, which is my healthier spin on rice pudding. I even eat it for breakfast. You can use the flakes just as you would oatmeal in a cookie recipe, like I did in these Sweet Potato Quinoa Cookies. I also love these Quinoa Coconut Macaroons and using it to make a grain-free granola.

Try quinoa for stuffing squash instead of using rice. Or, use it in a salad.

Sweet or savory, quinoa is smart food to include in your diet – gluten-free or not!

How do you use quinoa? If you haven’t tried it yet, what’s stopping you?

A stay-at-home mom, wife, and passionate cook, Amy strives to make each meal healthy and delicious. When she’s not doing laundry, dishes, or caring for her son, she plays around with food in the kitchen developing new recipes, which she shares at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Amy also publishes The Balanced Platter and authored the book Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free: 180 Easy & Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less.