If you are into healthy eating, you are bound to have seen hundreds of recipes that call for quinoa or recommend using quinoa as an alternative to rice. Quinoa is native to South America and has been a base of their diet for thousands of years although quinoa is a fairly newer grain to become popular in the United States. But is microwaved quinoa healthy?
Microwave quinoa is healthy. Cooking quinoa in a microwave in no way takes away from the amazing health benefits it provides. Not only is quinoa a complete protein full of amino acids, but it is also a whole grain with a lot of fiber that helps people feel full and have better digestion.
It can be intimidating to cook a new ingredient, but we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will discuss not only the health benefits of including quinoa in your diet, but also how to cook it in the microwave and how that differs from cooking it on the stovetop. We will also discuss some easy meal ideas that aren’t just healthy, but delicious as well.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
There are a few different varieties of quinoa such as black, red, yellow, and white. As a whole grain, 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 grams of fiber. This fiber contributes to a healthy digestive system as well as healthy levels of cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Another unique aspect of quinoa is that it is a naturally gluten-free grain. This means that it is safe for people with gluten intolerance or those practicing a gluten-free diet to consume.
As mentioned before, quinoa is a complete protein which means it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Our bodies need the 9 essential amino acids histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine in order to function, however, our body does not produce these on its own and needs to absorb them through the food we eat. These acids help us grow, repair body tissue, and break down food along with many other essential bodily functions.
Quinoa is also a healthy source of nutrients such as folate, iron, thiamine, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
How to Cook Quinoa in the Microwave
Cooking quinoa in the microwave is a relatively quick and simple process, in fact, cooking quinoa in a microwave is the fastest way to do it. This form of cooking quinoa is great for when you are in a hurry and don’t have much time, but still want a healthy dinner.
When cooking quinoa, the most important thing to remember is to use the correct ratio of water to grain. If you put in too little or too much water, it can result in quinoa that is too dry or too mushy, neither of which is very tasty. The correct ratio for cooking quinoa is 1:2, so you would add 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water. Another thing to keep in mind before cooking quinoa is that it more than doubles in size when cooked. If you cook 1 cup of dry quinoa, then you will have 2.5 or 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
Now that you have those two important things in mind, you are ready to cook your quinoa. First, you should measure out and rinse the quinoa. Rinsing the quinoa will remove the naturally occurring coating called saponin, which protects the quinoa plant as it grows. This coating is bitter and produces foam, so you will want to rinse your quinoa before cooking it.
The next step is to place the right ratio of quinoa and water into a microwave-safe bowl that is large enough to hold the quinoa even after it is fully cooked. After that, mix the water and quinoa and cover it with a microwave cover or microwave-safe plate and place it in the microwave. Cook the quinoa in the microwave for 6 minutes. Then stir the quinoa and place it back in the microwave to cook for 4 more minutes.
At this point in the process, the quinoa seeds should have popped open, leaving what looks like an outer rim. If this is not the case, put to bowl back in the microwave for another minute or two. When popped, there will still be a little more water in the bowl. Let the quinoa sit on the counter covered for about 5 minutes until the rest of the water is absorbed. After the water is completely absorbed, fluff the quinoa with a fork and enjoy.
Easy Quinoa Meal Ideas
Quinoa can be made into a side dish, salad, breakfast, and even the base for a full meal. An easy way to incorporate quinoa into your breakfast is to cook it much like you would oatmeal. However, to make the quinoa taste sweeter, you will need to lightly toast them before adding them to a mixture of boiling milk and water. Once it is cooked, you can add fresh fruit, nuts, milk, coconut flakes, or nut butter.
To make a quinoa bowl, cook the quinoa as you would normally and top it with roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and onions. You can also add your choice of meat or tofu, chickpeas, parsley, tahini, and lemon juice.
Quinoa is also a high protein substitute for rice, meaning you can eat it topped with teriyaki chicken, curry, or mixed in with a stir fry. The super grain can also be used as a replacement for pasta in pasta salad. When you add quinoa to a salad or soup, you will be making it an even heartier meal.
Are you looking for a hearty but healthy snack? Pop your quinoa to make a high-protein popcorn alternative. Popped quinoa is made by heating up a tall pot over medium-high heat and adding a layer of quinoa to the bottom. After that, you will just need to turn up the heat and cover and shake the pot until the interval in between pops is longer. After the quinoa cools, you are free to indulge in your guilt-free high protein snack.