Quinoa was a staple for the Aztecs in South America and was one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at high altitudes. Because of its high protein and fiber content, it was highly valued in these cultures. I recommend that people store it as an alternative to white rice, which has very little nutritional value.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a highly nutritious seed that is also considered a super-grain because it contains lots of essential vitamins, including B vitamins; minerals like magnesium, potassium and iron; antioxidants; and fiber.
- Quinoa contains almost twice the protein as rice and other grains. It is well-known that combining rice and beans together will make a complete protein; however, quinoa by itself contains all nine essential amino acids that come together in the proper quantities necessary to produce a complete protein.
- Quinoa is rich in calcium without the added cholesterol you find in dairy products.
- Quinoa is low in calories, with half a cup of quinoa yielding a measly 100 calories.
- Quinoa has minimal starch compared to wheat and rice.
- Quinoa is not genetically altered like wheat, oats, barley, corn and soy.
- Quinoa is gluten-free; therefore, it does not cause gluten intolerance like wheat does.
- Quinoa can be combined with brown rice in a rice cooker and cooked the same as rice.
- Quinoa can be used in place of rice in any dish that calls for rice.
I store a lot of this grain because it has a long shelf life similar to white rice, yet much more nutritious. I use quinoa every day by making a large batch of it and storing it in the refrigerator in a sealed bag. It goes well as a side dish with any meal.
Where Do You Find Quinoa?
Quinoa can be purchased at any health food store in the bulk bin section or baking aisles. Look for it near the rice, barley and pasta sections. It looks like a little round seed similar to millet and reminds me of birdseed.
Put the quinoa in a fine strainer or over a piece of cheesecloth in a standard strainer. Pick out any brown or black pieces that you see. Run water over the grain. With your fingers you can rub the grains until the water becomes cloudy. Strain and discard the water. Repeat the process several times until the water is clear.
Cooking Basic Quinoa
Prepare quinoa as you would prepare rice. Quinoa is great toasted. Melt a little butter in a pan, add the grain and toast it before cooking in the liquid. I like to use vegetable or chicken stock as the liquid when making quinoa. Water works just fine also. Use two parts liquid to one part quinoa. Use a cooking pan with a lid. Cover it and boil until soft. Stir occasionally for about 15 minutes. Do not add salt to the water as it is cooking. It is best to salt the finished product as you eat it. Stir continuously until it is slightly brown on all sides, then it is finished.
Place one part quinoa to two parts water in your rice cooker. I like to combine brown rice and quinoa together in the rice cooker. Brown rice requires a little more liquid, so I add another half a cup of broth or water. Even though brown rice takes twice as long to cook, it will turn out just fine. I make large batches of this to have on hand for evening meals. I add salt, pepper and butter to taste. It is fabulous.
Cooking In A Thermos
Another way to make whole grain breakfast cereal is to use a Thermos. Start the night before you want to eat it and add half a cup of grain kernels to the Thermos. Add about a quart of boiling water to the thermos to fill it and then tighten the lid, shake it up and let it set overnight. The next morning, you will have whole grain breakfast cereal. Pour off any excess water. Serve it with milk and honey or sweetener. Add raisins or chopped up dried fruit.
Quinoa Breakfast Mush Recipe
Quinoa also makes a great hot breakfast cereal, similar to oatmeal. Quinoa is great for breakfast whether you are vegetarian or vegan or you just want to eat healthy. These methods of cooking will work for all grains. The cooking times may take longer with the larger grains.
Ingredients: (Makes 4 servings)
- 2 cups quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained
- 4 cups milk, soy milk or almond milk
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, stevia or agave
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- Optional healthy add ins: sliced strawberries or other chopped fruit; nuts such as slivered almonds, cashews, coconut; raisins or any other dried fruit you like.
- Combine the quinoa and milk together in a heavy cooking pan and cook over low heat so you do not scorch the milk, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Heat for another five to six minutes, until quinoa is soft.
- Let quinoa set for another five minutes to soak up all the remaining liquid.
- Top with fruit, nuts and any other extra healthy toppings that you love.
Breakfast Cereals Using Other Whole Grains
I believe that if you have whole grains in your food storage, you can make hot cereal or mush for breakfast every day and it will sustain you. Keep your breakfast meals simple. Other breakfast cereal grains that can be stored for hard times are brown rice, whole or cracked wheat, millet, oatmeal, and cornmeal. Get them in the organic section of the health food store. Look for the ones that are labeled non-GMO.
Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice but goes rancid when stored on the shelf for more than nine months. I keep my brown rice in the freezer until I use it.
Whole or cracked wheat kernels cooked in water with a little salt makes a wholesome whole-wheat breakfast cereal. You should use two cups of water and a pinch of salt for every cup of whole wheat. Just boil the water, add the wheat and cook the kernels until the wheat is soft. Eat it with honey, milk and raisins.
Millet is one of the best grains to store for babies, small children and older people. It is easily digested and soft on the stomach. Millet is a small, round grain similar to quinoa and is also used for birdseed.
Oatmeal is great to store because it can be used so many different ways. It can be cooked and made into mush for a breakfast cereal and granola.
Cornmeal can be made into mush by mixing three cups of boiling water with 1.5 cups of cornmeal and a pinch of salt. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes until the mush is thick. Eat it hot with a pat of butter, honey, milk and raisins, if desired.
Wheat Grinder Or Grain Mill
It is nice to have a non-electric wheat grinder that will crack the whole grains if the power goes out. If you don’t have a wheat grinder, use your blender and blend it only until it is cracked in half.
If The Power Goes Out
If the power goes out, you can boil water in a pan on an outdoor fire or use a Dutch oven to cook the grain. It’s good to have an alternative source of heat to cook on just in case the power fails.
Raw whole grains should be stored in airtight containers. Using an oxygen absorber or vacuum-sealing the grain in pouches will keep it oxygen-free. Grain will store for many years if kept cool and stored in a dark, dry environment.
Clean water is very important when cooking with grains. I store the product called ION stabilized oxygen. It kills most harmful bacteria in the water on contact. It takes only 20 drops of ION per gallon of water. Stir and drink immediately or use in cooking. If the water is dirty, it must be run through a dishtowel or cloth to strain the dirt and debris. It is a good idea to have a portable water filter for filtering questionable water in any bad situation.