Perfectly Fluffy Quinoa

Quinoa is one of our favorite high protein carbs to snack on + use in our meals for TRIM and it’s freaking delicious… so I figured it might be helpful to teach you how to make it perfectly fluffy!

Tools Required:

Rice Cooker – I have a couple of 6-cup rice cookers and couldn’t live without them. I cook every single grain in mine for no-fuss results every time. Plus, they keep your grains warm after cooking until you’re ready to use!

Measuring Cups – Exact measurement is key when cooking grains so I use both a wet and a dry measuring cup to be as precise as possible!

My Thought Process:

When I first found out about quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), I was super excited. The nutritionist in me was thrilled at the fact that a gluten-free grain (although quinoa is technically a seed) could provide a source of complete protein and taste so delicious. And it was a blank slate for creating endless recipes!

However, aside from having a confusing name, there seems to be huge confusion out there when it comes to actually cooking with quinoa. I’ve run across quinoa that is either too dry and crunchy or complete and utter mush and it doesn’t help that when you Google “how to cook quinoa,” you’re provided with a 2:1 liquid-to-grain ratio that just doesn’t produce ideal results.

When I first started developing recipes for A Healthy Passion, I knew that I had to experiment to find the best method for perfectly fluffy quinoa each and every time, especially when cooking two portions as we do for our recipes. And after several great meals (and a few mishaps!), I think I’ve absolutely nailed it!

** While a rice cooker is recommended, it’s totally not needed. Having tasted both side by side, I find that each method produces a consistently good result but I personally prefer a rice cooker since I can just push a button and walk away (perfect for all of us multi-taskers)!

For Perfectly Fluffy Quinoa, Here’s What to Do:

{Disclaimer} I rarely rinse my quinoa. But if you find quinoa to somewhat bitter, rinsing through a fine mesh strainer will help to reduce this. The bitter, soapy flavor comes from a naturally occurring phytochemical called saponin which actually helps keep birds and animals away from quinoa! Rinsing the quinoa instantly washes that taste away and should get you a little closer to a flavor you might enjoy. I’m lazy so I don’t bother most of the time!

Let’s start with the stovetop method. You can toast your quinoa if you like but I typically don’t, again because I cut corners wherever possible! I also cook my quinoa in veggie stock which gives it plenty of flavor flav!

Step 1: (If you want to rinse that quinoa, go for it! If not, don’t.) Measure out 1/2 cup of quinoa and set aside. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add in 1/2 of a veggie stock cube (from our AHP pantry). Give it a little stir to dissolve and add in the quinoa. Stir again. The water should still be boiling at this point so you’re going to want to turn down the heat. I would say to medium low but closer to medium. You want your quinoa to be moving but not bubbling like crazy. Now, cover it and set a timer for 12 minutes.

Step 2: Check on your quinoa after 12 minutes. If there is still plenty water left, set your timer for another 5 minutes. If it’s almost absorbed, set your timer for 3 more minutes. Once the water has been COMPLETELY absorbed, turn that heat off and set the quinoa aside for 5 more minutes.

Step 3: After 5 minutes has passed, check your quinoa with a fork and fluff. You can then spoon it wherever it needs to go.

And now for the rice cooker method.

Step 1: Add 1/2 cup of quinoa, 1 1/4 cups of water and 1/2 of a veggie stock cube (from our AHP pantry) to your rice cooker and turn it on. Come back whenever the heck you feel like it and your quinoa will be perfect!

Step 2: Fluff with a fork and spoon it where you want it!

As you can see, the rice cooker method is clearly the easier of the two but you’ll end up with mind-blowingly fluffy little specks of quinoa either way.

P.S. If you have leftover quinoa, store it in an airtight container for up to 5 days and add it to everything!

Health Tip:

I’ve already mentioned that quinoa is a complete protein (it’s actually one of the few plant-based foods that can claim that distinction) with a whopping 8 grams of protein per serving! It’s also loaded with fiber, it’s non-GMO, gluten-free and usually grown organically. Even though technically not a grain, it still counts as a whole grain food.

Quinoa also happens to be very high in antioxidants (substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight aging and many diseases) and is a great source of iron (a very important element, especially for veg-heads) and magnesium (a fantastic sleep-aid).

So if you’re just itching to go cook some quinoa, check out our Mexican Baked Quinoa (ask Sarah “recipe AHP 135”) or our Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers (ask Sarah “recipe AHP 071” . And if you order yourself a rice cooker, you can also make the Farro with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese (ask Sarah “recipe AHP 038”) using that baby. In fact, you can even just ask Sarah “recipe quinoa” and see what she suggests! The possibilities are limitless 😉

Happy Quinoa Fluffing,

Kate

 

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