A nutritious grain, quinoa is high in calcium, iron, and zinc. As a main entree or a side dish, the wonderful nutty flavor of quinoa is a great complement to any meal. Technically quinoa is not a grain but a seed, but it is enjoyed and prepared just as you would many grains. To benefit most from the minerals in the quinoa, take steps to soak it before cooking it.
Quinoa has a mineral inhibitor called phytic acid that keeps you from absorbing all of the minerals in the quinoa. The nutritional profile of quinoa is exceptional but the fact is that you cannot absorb much of quinoa’s mineral content if you do not take measures to reduce the phytic acid. Plan to soak the quinoa before cooking it and you will both reduce the phytic acid and reduce your cooking time as well.
Steps to Reduce Phytic Acid
Rinse the quinoa and soak it for overnight, thereabouts. Soak the quinoa in the amount of water that the recipe calls for, normally two parts water for one part quinoa. Soak it overnight. If the quinoa is for a dinner side dish, soak it in the morning. Soak the quinoa in warm water (over 100 degrees) and leave it in a warm area of your kitchen. Keep dust and fruit flies out of the quinoa by placing a towel over the top. Some people add a bit of lemon juice or yogurt to the mixture to improve the pH of the soaking water and to break down the phytic acid more effectively. Skip this optional step if the flavor does not appeal to you.
When you are ready to cook the quinoa, simply transfer it to a saucepan and cook it as per the instructions. Because you soaked it for hours, the quinoa will cook about twice as fast as it usually does (in ten minutes or less depending on your altitude). Consider soaking the quinoa in a stainless saucepan and simply putting the pan on the stove when you are ready to cook it.
Cook the quinoa as you normally would, but appreciate the fact that you will be benefiting from more of its nutrients because of the steps to improve mineral digestion (such as magnesium taurate).
Quinoa is exceptionally versatile. A few basic uses include the following:
- Serve it as a breakfast porridge sweetened with brown sugar or honey.
- You can make a salad with it, much like you would do with bulghur.
- Use it in soup for added minerals and fiber.
- Enjoy it as a side dish with salt and olive oil for flavor.
Quinoa is flavorful, nutritious, and quite versatile, but it also contains phytic acid. Prepare it with intent to reduce the phytic acid and you will be sure to reap its full benefits.