> Buy Quinoa? Where to Find the Best Tasting Brands
Buy Quinoa? Where to Find the Best Tasting Brands
Buy quinoa from good sources
If you want to buy quinoa that tastes good consider getting it online.
Why? Unless you can find Bob’s Red Mill quinoa, shown above, or a brand that you know you like at your local store for a good price, buying quinoa online can be more reliable and cheaper. If you read customer reviews on the sites you buy from that can also help you choose wisely between competing companies.
What’s wrong with some brands of quinoa?
What you ideally want is quinoa that has been prewashed. Although many companies claim that they prewash quinoa, many of them don’t do a thorough job so you have to wash it again yourself. I’ve purchased quinoa from a number of companies and from bulk bins and often had to wash the grains despite the ‘prewashed’ claims!
Why should quinoa be prewashed? Quinoa in its natural state has a coating of bitter-tasting substances called saponins. Saponins not only taste bad, they are mildly toxic. Ancient Harvest brand suffers from this problem, and they are a standard brand that you find it stores. Annoying. I think that Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes are from properly washed grains, but I avoid them overall. Also, the price of the flakes is far too high in my opinion.
Is washing quinoa yourself so bad? Washing quinoa is a pain because quinoa is so tiny! You need a colander with very small holes or a fine mesh strainer to drain the soaked quinoa. The holes in standard colanders and strainers are usually too big so the quinoa will drop out and wash away. I bought a special colander for quinoa before I discovered a better brand that didn’t need washing. I was willing to take the extra steps at the time – I didn’t know that there was a better brand – but I didn’t enjoy it one bit.
Quinoa is tiny!
Would you like rocks with your quinoa? Some companies that offer quinoa don’t sort the quinoa properly so you might get bits of twigs and rocks in a batch. I almost broke my tooth on a tiny pebble one time. Yet another reason to go with the brand I mention here which doesn’t seem to have that problem.
What does quinoa taste like? If you buy quinoa that is properly washed and of high quality, the taste is mild. A bit nutty perhaps. People who say that it’s a good substitute for rice are partly correct in my experience. But it far more earthy than rice – more like brown rice in taste, but that’s stretching things a bit. Quinoa ultimately tastes like … quinoa! The texture is soft with a bit of a squiggle. The squiggle is because when quinoa cooks the outer germ around each grain twists to form a white spiral tail. It’s fun. It’s very good in savory soups based on chicken stock, and it makes a more nutritious gluten free hot cereal than oatmeal or rice – just add a bit of salt, butter and perhaps a sprinkle of berries if you want something sweet. It’s great for making a gluten free tabouleh too.
Apparently quinoa is easier to digest than other gluten free grains. I can believe that from my own experience. If you have a damaged digestive system from gluten, quinoa might be easier for your body to digest than other gluten free grains.
Cooked quinoa – can you see the squiggly tails?
Cooking quinoa. The easiest way to cook quinoa is in a pot on the stove like rice. Usually the package will advise you to use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa. For the liquid, you can use water or stock. Simply combine the liquid and quinoa in a pot, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed, then fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside for a few minutes. You can add butter or oil at the beginning of cooking, and a bit of salt, if you like, or add them afterward.
Some people love to bake with quinoa flour. I never have, but I’ve read that it works well in gluten free cake recipes.
Organic quinoa? It’s worth it to pay a bit more for organic quinoa, in my opinion. Quinoa is never cheap, even when it isn’t organic, but it’s grown in countries where quality control is not always ideal.
Paying more in general for quinoa, organic or not, than other gluten free grains isn’t so bad because it’s more nutritious (okay, I still feel that quinoa flakes are overpriced).
Quinoa nutrition? Quinoa is referred to as a ‘pseudocereal’ because it isn’t a grass like other grains. Thus it isn’t a true grain, it’s a seed, which explains it’s good nutritional profile. Quinoa is about 12-18% protein – much higher than other gluten free ‘grains’ AND the protein in quinoa is complete. Yes, quinoa contains all 8 essential amino acids, which is unusual for a plant food. It also provides calcium, phosphorous, potassium, Vitamin E, and B vitamins. Even so, I don’t recommend eating a lot of it (as you may know by now, I favor a hunter gatherer diet) so enjoy it in moderation as a novel gluten free grain and the price won’t matter so much.
If you’re looking for quinoa, I recommend purchasing Bob’s Red Mill quinoa at your local store or online. Online you can also read reviews of other brands which is handy.
You might also be interested in my post: How to Make Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Whole Grains More Digestible