> 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 buying it online.
Unless you can find Bob’s Red Mill quinoa, shown above, or a brand that you know that you like at your local store for a good price, buying quinoa online is usually more reliable and cheaper. Online you’ll find customer reviews that describe the pros and cons of different brands, something that you won’t see in stores.
What’s Wrong with Some Brands of Quinoa?
What you ideally want is quinoa that has been washed well by the manufacturer. Many companies claim that they wash quinoa, but few do a thorough job. I’ve purchased quinoa from a number of companies, and from bulk bins, and I’ve often had to wash the grains myself despite the washed claims.
Why should quinoa be washed? Quinoa, in it’s natural state, has a coating of bitter-tasting substances called saponins. Saponins not only taste bad, they’re also mildly toxic.
Is washing quinoa yourself so bad? Washing quinoa is a pain because quinoa is tiny. You need a colander with very small holes, or a fine mesh strainer, for draining. The holes in standard colanders and strainers are usually too big so the quinoa will drop into the sink, and trying to scoop it up again is difficult and messy. I bought a fine mesh colander for quinoa, but that was before I discovered a much better solution: a brand that doesn’t need washing.
Quinoa is tiny.
Would you like rocks with your quinoa?
Some quinoa manufacturers don’t sort the quinoa thoroughly so you’ll find small pieces of twigs and rocks in a batch. I almost broke my tooth on a tiny pebble one time. When you read reviews of quinoa scan for reports about unwanted inclusions.
What Does Quinoa Taste Like?
Quinoa that’s high quality and properly washed has a mild taste that’s slightly nutty. People who say that it’s a good substitute for rice are partly correct in my experience, but it’s earthier than white rice, more like brown. Quinoa ultimately tastes like … quinoa. You’ll need to try it to decide if you like it or not.
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.
Cooked quinoa. Can you see the squiggly tails?
The easiest way to cook quinoa is to cook it in a pot like rice. Usually package directions will advise you to use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa. For the liquid, you can use water and/or stock. 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 gently fluff the quinoa with a fork and set the pot 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.
It’s particularly tasty in simple savoury soups made with chicken stock, I find. You can also eat it as a GF hot cereal, just add a bit of salt, butter and perhaps sugar or honey and berries. It’s great for making GF tabouleh too.
Some people love to bake with quinoa flour. I haven’t tried that, but I’ve read that it works well in GF cake recipes.
Quinoa is referred to as a pseudocereal because it isn’t a grass like other grains. In other words, it isn’t a true grain, it’s a seed.
Quinoa contains 12-18% protein, much higher than other GF grains and grain like seeds, and the protein in quinoa is complete because it contains 8 essential amino acids, unusual for a plant food. It’s also fairly rich in minerals and vitamins, for example 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 favour a hunter gatherer diet).
If you’re looking for quinoa, I recommend purchasing Bob’s Red Mill quinoa at your local store or online.
You might also be interested in my post: How to Make Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Whole Grains More Digestible