Not Too Quinoa

4 Aug

I have never had quinoa before, to be honest, I had no idea what it was. I first learned about quinoa around the time of Mantou’s first birthday. I didn’t find a bakery that was available to make a wheat-free cake so I searched for a recipe online. I learned that substituting all-purpose flour wasn’t simple. I had to mix a couple of flours like brown rice flour and tapioca flour with xanthan gum (another ingredient I never heard of before).  Other gluten-free websites used nut-based flours but with Mantou’s allergies to nuts, I had to avoid those too. My wonderful friend Grace took this as a challenge and ended up making a delicious looking chocolate cake based on quinoa flour. I didn’t get to taste it but the photos she sent me made my mouth water. So that was the first time I heard of quinoa.  (Grace, I bet you’re surprised!).

I do not tire of eating white rice, I’ll be perfectly happy eating rice at every meal, but my husband likes to mix it up… he’s so adventurous! He suggested we look into eating something like couscous. Historically, couscous was originally made from millet, but somewhere in time it became purely made from wheat. It took a long time for me to even buy a package of quinoa. I didn’t know what I could do with quinoa, but just like I didn’t know what to do with buckwheat, I was going to figure it out. And it’s not too hard – just add water and let it simmer. Actually, with quinoa there is a little more work. Per instructions on the package, I had to soak it in water for a couple of hours before cooking it.

When cooked, they appear as little brown balls with a funky wisp, probably from the shell coming off the grain (don’t really know how to explain it). My family ate it like it was rice so we didn’t dress it up. The texture is gritty and it was slightly bitter, I wonder if we didn’t let the quinoa soak long enough. It was not a big hit with Mantou so we later mixed it up with some white rice and veggies for him to take to day care.

Another time I tried quinoa was from the Whole Foods deli. My husband was hungry while we shopped so we went to check their salad bar. They had about three different type of quinoa salads. I was reading all the ingredients to figure if it was something I could make at home. Something like quinoa, garbanzo beans, parsley, lime and spices looked pretty easy to make. Another one with mushrooms and zucchini didn’t look too difficult to make either. I should visit their deli’s more often!

I do have a package of quinoa that I still need to finish so hopefully I will find a recipe that Mantou will be able to enjoy – So far he’s not too keen on quinoa.

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4 Responses to “Not Too Quinoa”

  1. Katie August 4, 2011 at 9:44 PM #

    I’ve been eating quinoa for years and have found that the brand you buy can make a difference in grittiness. The bitterness happens when you don’t wash off the saponins that naturally coat quinoa grains (that’s why your instructions said to soak it). I haven’t had any of these problems since using Bob’s Red Mill brand. They pre-rinse and dry it for you so you can skip that step. I steam it just like rice. Annie loved it as a toddler, not so much anymore. But she also hates white rice so I’m not sure she’s a good judge of grains! I like both. 🙂

    • mantousmom August 5, 2011 at 8:18 AM #

      Thanks for the tips, Katie… I should ask you for more advice 😉

  2. kristianne August 4, 2011 at 10:12 PM #

    I’ve bought the bulk quinoa at whole foods and I didn’t know you were supposed to rinse it or soak it!! I just cooked it up like rice in a risotto and ate it! haha, maybe the cheese covered up the bitterness.

    I am not 100% familiar with it but have you looked into the paleo or caveman diet? It’s a grain free diet but it does include eggs. They might have some other suggestions for different foods/recipes that would work for your baby!

    • mantousmom August 5, 2011 at 8:23 AM #

      I think it depends on the packaging because some already pre-rinse the quinoa for you… but in bulk, you probably would need to soak them a bit 😉

      Yes, a friend of mine follows Paleo and we’ve had conversations before. She’s going to be starting a blog soon too.

      It’s hard to just pick one diet because of different allergies. I love looking at raw food but they use a lot of nuts.

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