Eating simply and healthfully isn't always easy on-the-go. Cold leftovers are only appealing for so long, and I don't know about you, but I somehow always manage to forget my spoon or fork on the counter when I am rushing out the door. I can't tell you how many times I've been left stranded at lunch time with a container full of messy food and nothing to eat it with. Oh the drama! That's why I've been loving these simple quinoa bites lately. These tasty little cups can be tossed into lunchboxes, brought to work, used as an appetizer or savored as a side dish for dinner. Best of all there are no utensils required. This is finger food at its finest!
As I discussed in this post for Quinoa Tabbouleh, quinoa has been subject to some contention when it comes to ancestral-type diets. Although some people on "low-carb" or "grain-free" diets avoid it for its high level of starchiness, quinoa can be a very healthy and energy-boosting addition to a real foods diet when prepared properly. Here are some quick quinoa facts that you may find interesting:
Quinoa is not actually a grain. Contrary to popular belief, these interesting little pellets do not technically belong next to rice and millet among the non-glutenous grains, because they aren't really grains at all. Quinoa is made up of the edible seeds of a plant belonging in the Chenopodium family (related to beet roots and spinach).
Dr. Weston Price was the first person to describe Quinoa in Western Literature. In his insightful book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price noted that women in the Andes have valued quinoa as a source of nourishment for their families for thousands of years. It was particularly revered for its ability to stimulate breast milk. This tradition highlights the fact that it is a nutrient dense and energy-rich food. But not to worry-- men can certainly safely enjoy the benefits too!
Quinoa is high in protein and minerals. This unique seed boasts all nine essential amino acids, making it one of the only complete vegetable protein sources. Quinoa also contains a hearty helping of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, magnesium, iron and manganese. We believe it is best enjoyed as part of a well-balanced whole foods diet, aside plenty of animal proteins and healthy fats.
Quinoa should be soaked and rinsed prior to eating. Like most seeds, quinoa is high in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which bind to important minerals and make digestion difficult. To promote nutrient bioavailability, quinoa should be soaked in an acidic medium for several hours (or overnight) prior to cooking. This is a simple process, and I will describe how to do it below.
Now, let's get cooking!
How to Prepare Quinoa (the right way!)
Makes about 4 cups cooked
1 cup quinoa
2 cups of filtered water, warm
2 tablespoons of whey, yogurt, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
In a large glass bowl, place quinoa and cover with two cups of filtered water. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the the cultured or acidic medium of choice. Cover and keep in a warm place for 8-24 hours.
Once complete, strain quinoa and rinse thoroughly to remove bitter sapponins coating the outside. Be sure to use a fine mesh, else the quinoa will sneak through!
To cook: transfer soaked quinoa to a medium pot and add about 2 cups more filtered water and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until all of the water has been soaked up.
Tasty Quinoa Bites
Makes about 30 bite-sized cups
4 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
1 cup vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup gouda cheese, diced into small cubes
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease mini-muffin tins.
In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, eggs, broccoli, onion, and cheese.
Put a heaping tablespoonful of quinoa mixture into prepared mini-muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes and then gently remove from pan to cool completely.