Finally, as you get more adventurous you’ll want to think about learning to cook some of the many other whole grain products out there. Things like Amaranth, Quinoa, Unhulled Barley, Whole Oat Groats, and Wheat Berries. I’m specifically going to highlight Quinoa here because of its nutritional content, quick cook time, and slightly quirky cooking preparation. I Love Quinoa! It has a 15 minute cook time, not bad for a whole grain, huh?
The catch is, it requires a bit more care when rinsing than other grains or beans. Quinoa is coated with a natural layer of saponins (a bitter coating that suds up like soap) that need to be washed off before cooking. I put the amount I’ll be cooking in a bowl filled with water and rub the seeds between my hands several times and then rinse them a few times after this. That seems to be the fastest, most effective method I’ve found. After that you just need to cook the grain in a 2 to 1 ratio with water, 2 cups water to 1 cup of quinoa, bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. It will come out light and fluffy and when you examine the seeds closely you’ll see a little curl where the germ has started to separate during the cooking process. This can be served as a side dish as is, or you can use vegetable broth in place of the water when cooking to increase the flavor.
My sister makes a delicious salad out of this by using vegetable broth in the cooking and then adding any vegetables she has handy (cooked potatoes, peas, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) to the quinoa.
Now for the nutritional greatness I hinted at earlier. Quinoa contains a high protein content (12%-18%) and this is in the form of an impressive set of amino acids, which is unusual in a plant source. It is also high in folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and iron. Interestingly, one cup of quinoa contains 16 mg of iron, compare that to 10.2 mg in 1 pound of Sirloin steak (I use this cut as an example because it is higher in iron than many other beef options).
* Information on protein percentages was taken from Wikipedia, for all other nutritional information mentioned the reference used was: Nutrition Almanac by Lavon J. Dunne