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The Quinoa Craze

Open any magazine, watch any morning show, or eavesdrop at any supermarket, and you’ll like read or hear something about the latest nutrition trend—quinoa. This pseudo-grain has gained enormous popularity due to both the ever-expanding gluten-free market and the increased awareness of whole grains’ benefits.

In case you’ve missed out on all the hype, here’s a brief synopsis: quinoa is actually a seed but may be used like a grain in cooking. It is one of the few plant foods that provides the full array of amino acids, making it a complete protein. It also boasts hefty amounts of fiber and minerals (such as manganese and magnesium). If you’re interested in learning more about quinoa, please see my guide to grains.

The cookbook industry has not let the trendiness of quinoa go unnoticed. Indeed, I have recently received two cookbooks each filled with nothing but quinoa recipes. After testing out a few recipes, I thought I would share my thoughts on each book.

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Quinoa Cuisine: 150 Creative Recipes for Super-Nutritious, Amazingly Delicious Dishes 

Features of this book include:

  • A short section explaining quinoa basics
  • Handy coding system to let you know if it’s a quick fix, gluten-free, “healthy,” kid-friendly, vegan, vegetarian, or good for company.

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  • Each chapter (e.g., Salads) is divided by season, letting you know which recipes are most appropriate for the time of year.
  • Includes an entire section devoted solely to vegetarian recipes

Recipes

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Comments

This book has quite a variety of recipes, and the ones I tried were both delicious and healthful. However, there is no explanation of what exactly the “Healthy Choice” symbol denotes—do they contain a certain amount of fat, Calories, sodium, or fiber? If so, what are those cut-off values? There is no nutrition information on any of the recipes, so this symbol seems a bit arbitrary to me. Also, there is nary a single photo in the whole book.

Cooking with Quinoa: the Supergrain

Features of this book include:

  • A helpful introduction, describing quinoa and how to prepare it
  • Provides quantities in both ounces and grams (and some volumes) to make for more precise preparation
  • Fantastic food photos—nearly one on every page!

Recipes

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Having a photographic guide for preparing these recipes really helped me—but I say that about every cookbook I review! What can I say? I’m a visual learner. The recipes included in this book are not all exactly nutritious. Sure, they all center around whole foods, but bear in mind that eggs and cheese might be natural and free of additives, but they also contain plenty of Calories. Accordingly, the savory pies and tarts featured in this book might best be saved for a special occasion.

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After all that quinoa, you would think that I would be sick of it, but I think this experiment has only enhanced my enjoyment of the pseudo-grain. Plus, I better learn to like eating lots of it, as I have a whole four pounds’ worth to eat up!

Do you enjoy quinoa? What are your favorite ways to prepare it?

8 Responses to “The Quinoa Craze”

  1. I’ve never tried it but i’ve been so curious about it since i first saw it in a blog of another healthy eater. i’ve always been a little unclear on the types, and how long to cook it for so i’ve never taken the chance on it before.

    But I still like the look of that loaf.

  2. I love quinoa!

    And it bugs me when cookbooks don’t provide nutrition information. Why don’t they? Sheesh!

  3. I love quinoa :) That tuna and olives number looks really good! I like the little fishy tablecloth, too. Too cute!

  4. Nice roundup and explanations. I’m not a vegetarian but I keep meat to a minimum and try to incorporate a lot of grains into my diet.

  5. I am a bit obsessed with quinoa! Looks like a have a new book I NEED!!

  6. We love quinoa. We have made soup with it, served it in side dishes and even stuffed peppers and tomatoes with it.

    It is easy to cook, works in a wide variety of applications and it is nutritious.

    Plus, in the huge bags we buy it in from Costco, it is pretty affordable.

    I am sure we will find even more uses for it. I honestly feel it is one of the trendy foods that does deserve the hype it gets.

  7. Quinoa burgers! So many variations and superdeliciously protein-powerful!

  8. As you know, I’m obsessed with quinoa and love trying it in new recipes and trying to incorporate it into at least one meal a day. I also love that companies have come out with innovative candy and protein bars too! Here were my posts on quinoa from last week:
    “Crazy About Quinoa” http://www.treatswithatwist.com/2012/04/crazy-about-quinoa.html
    “I Heart Keenwah Candy” http://www.treatswithatwist.com/2012/04/i-heart-keenwah-candy.html
    “Keen-Wah Decadence Bar” http://www.treatswithatwist.com/2012/04/i-heart-keenwah-candy.html

    What you made looks so delish and has already inspired what I’m planning to make for dinner!

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