Quinoa

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Food & Design: Trends for Summer, Quinoa

SUMMER TRENDS FOR GRAINS

As a caterer I am constantly looking for the new and interesting ingredients to add in my dishes. One of the most important parts of my presentation to my clients is assure them that I can keep up with current trends. Because of the rise of the health movement in the last few years, more than ever, individuals are looking at the ingredients that comprise their food. Since spring is upon us in the United States, and with summer quickly coming, I have decided to write about several grains that are making their move for pantry space in the average American home.

In my first segment of my discussion, I will talk about Quinoa. I first discovered this grain on a food blog several months ago. Intrigued, I searched for the grain in my local food stores but was at a loss. However, soon this grain popped up in a local Pittsburgh grocer and I immediately started cooking with it.

QUINOA: A HISTORY LESSON
Known for over 6,000 years, Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America.  In stories from Spanish explorers, Incas used to call quinoa the “mother of all grains” or “chisaya mama”.  Resistant to high-altitudes, it requires cooler temperatures and short day lengths, which explains why Peru and Bolivia are the highest producers of this grain.  Completely unknown to the North American region until the 1980s, two Americans discovered the grain and began cultivating it in Colorado.  Since then, quinoa has had a slow discovery throughout North America.

HEALTH BENEFITS
As a vegetarian, it should be my duty to find the best foods for my body.  But, most days I am just looking to fill a hunger than to really nourish my body.  Normally that means something quick and easy, so I find myself lucky to have found quinoa.  The balanced set of essential amino acids give this grain a high (12 to 18 percent) protein content which deems this grain a “super crop” by the United Nations. This is one of the reasons why vegetarians, as well as campers, love this grain.  Quinoa is lighter than meat and is easier and safer to pack for summer-time trips.

MEDIA COVERAGE
Quinoa started to pop up across the web about a year ago in larger quantities.  Food bloggers were first to show globally how to use and prepare quinoa.  However, in the last few months more and more bloggers are talking about it.  National magazines mention the grain and national television shows explain how to cook with it.  This can be explained with the widely growing health and organic movements that is spreading across the United States.

WHAT TO EXPECT THIS YEAR
This grain will not be as popular as rice or pasta has become stateside.  At least not in the next year or so.  What you will see is smaller restaurants mixing this into their options for side dishes or as a complement to better-known dishes to add a bit of originality, generating interest and new ideas for the preparation of quinoa.  This will, in turn, help grocery stores across the nation fulfill a demand for this product. Then, when I need to find this grain to make as a side dish or to help give a much needed substance to a dish, I can go to a larger chain which I visit more frequently than to a smaller health forward store which I only use for specialty goods.

TIPS TO PREPARE THE GRAIN
Quinoa can be cooked in a similar fashion as common jasmine rice.  A good rule of thumb for the “mother of grains” is a 2-to-1 method, 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa.  After the water has boiled in a 2-quart saucepot, turn down the heat and cover for 15 to 20 minutes to produce a side dish with a unique light, chewy flavor.  Because of the fast cooking period, quinoa is a favorite for a quick and hearty breakfast, especially in the winter.  Since we are nearing the end of winter here in the States, it is also a perfect addition to vegetable salads and cold dishes for the summer picnic.

Alexandra Gergar graduates from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in marketing and finance.  Cooking since she was a child, she now has a food blog called Lemons in Water and a local caterer in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Product design is a conversation with your audience, why not blog in the same manner?

Follow me on Twitter: alexgergar

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3 Responses to “Quinoa”

  1. Topics about Natural-products » Quinoa Says:

    [...] Cheap Cell Phones – Cheap mp3 Players – Cheap iPods added an interesting post on QuinoaHere’s a small excerptAs a vegetarian, it should be my duty to find the best foods for my body … be explained with the widely growing health and organic movements that [...]

  2. Melissa Says:

    I love having a dinner of fresh salmon over quinoa with a side of steamed veggies. Back in my vegetarian days, I'd substitute tempeh for salmon – also excellent. The best tasting quinoa dish which I've tried is very simple. Simply rinse the quinoa, then cook it in a mixture of vegetable broth with this blend of herbs added – thyme, basil, oregano, black pepper, and a teaspoon of lemon zest. Just before the quinoa is done, add a dash of lemon juice and fresh parsley. So, so good and even picky eaters enjoy it.

  3. blogs Says:

    Thinking Big Works » Blog Archive » Quinoa…

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