How to Cook Quinoa in Chicken Broth

Try this easy way to add extra flavor to a nutritious side dish.

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boiled quinoa in white bowl, stock photo

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Quinoa originated thousands of years ago in the Andes and is known as "the gold of the Incas." Revered for its high nutrition values, quinoa (say "keen-wah") indeed packs a healthy wallop. This powerful little seed contains more protein than any other grain or seed and includes essential amino acids, lots of calcium, and big doses of lysine, iron, fiber, magnesium and the B vitamins. It's also full of potassium, vitamin E and a collection of antioxidants.

If that isn't enough to sell you, quinoa is gluten-free, with a nutty, earthy flavor and a fluffy, chewy texture. It's super-easy to cook, and it's versatile; try it in soups, salads, chili and stir-fries. It's not unheard of to see quinoa in cookies as well. It even comes in a few different colors — white, black and red.

Quinoa is the consummate side dish. It cooks quickly, and its mild flavor is tailor-made for endless meal variations. Simply stated, quinoa is a healthy and very affordable substitute for traditional animal-based proteins.

What's great about it

Need some more encouragement to give quinoa a try? Check out this impressive list of attributes:

  • Highly nutritious, non-GMO and typically grown organically. (Did you know that NASA scientists are considering quinoa as a likely crop to grow in space?)
  • Includes quercetin and kaempferol. Huh? These are super-healthy plant antioxidants called flavonoids, and they are found in high quantities in quinoa.
  • Highest fiber content of any grain, and fiber is your friend. With quinoa weighing in at about 10 to 16 grams of fiber per 100 grams, you're getting in the range of 17 to 27 grams of fiber per cup. Keep in mind that boiling quinoa reduces its fiber content, although it's still pretty high at about 2.5 grams per cup.
  • Packed with all nine of the essential amino acids, which our bodies need to remain healthy. Plan on getting 8 grams of this superfuel protein per cup.
  • Low glycemic index. This means quinoa is a good food to help control blood sugar.
  • Helps improve metabolic health. Studies show that eating quinoa instead of breads and pastas can significantly reduce blood sugar.

Preparing quinoa

When it comes to preparing this super seed, what's the best way to whip up a delicious meal?

Quinoa is typically prepared in water, but you can use chicken broth instead to add more flavor. If you go that route, be sure to choose low- or no-sodium broth to avoid spiking your sodium intake.

Here's a tried-and-true method for perfect quinoa:

  • Pour the quinoa in a strainer and rinse with cool water for about 2 minutes. Give the seeds a little rub and sift to be sure all of them get thoroughly washed, then let it drain. Don't skip this rinsing step or your quinoa will taste bitter. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that leaves a bitter or soapy taste.
  • Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil (use canola or olive oil) for every cup of quinoa. Toast, stirring frequently, until it turns a honeyed color, about two minutes.
  • Pour in the chicken broth at a ratio of 2 cups broth to every 1 cup of quinoa, and bring the whole works to a boil. Then cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove the pan from the burner and let it sit for 5 more minutes. This allows any remaining water to be absorbed, and the leftover heat finishes up the cooking process.
  • Remove the lid, fluff the seeds, and serve. Cooked quinoa seeds should have a translucent appearance.

Pro tips: A cup of dry quinoa typically equals 3 cups of cooked. Sauteed veggies, herbs or your favorite spices are great for adding extra flavor. Don't forget to try the red or black quinoa varieties, which are packed with anthocyanins (antioxidants).

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