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We’re delving into the world of gluten free around my house lately, in hopes to solves some intestinal issues with our little girl.  Truth be told, I think our entire family has, at the very least, some wheat sensitivities.  We are’t completely gluten free yet, but we have significantly reduced the amount of wheat we are consuming, and in lieu of gluten, I’ve found some amazingly tasty grains!

Enter: quinoa

Yes, it’s spelled funny. No, it’s not phonetic. It’s pronounced KEEN-wa and it comes from South America and is technically a seed (not a grain) from a plant akin to spinach.  It was known as Incan Gold because it is so nutritious and was known to give the Incan warriors their stamina.  I’m no Incan warrior, but I do have 3 kids, I homeschool two of them, and I run 2 small business. Pretty close if you ask me. I’ll take all the stamina I can get!

If you’ve ever tried it before and hadn’t the foggiest idea what you were doing, you may have taken one bite and then thrown out the pan!  The quinoa seeds are covered in saponin, which is extremely bitter, so you’ll need to rinse your quinoa until the water runs clear before you cook it.  TRUST ME on this one.

Tip:  Quinoa is really tiny (much smaller than rice) and it’s difficult to rinse without washing half of it down the drain.  I use my french press to soak and then rinse the quinoa and so far, this has seemed like the best method.  You can also use a fine mesh sieve, or cheese cloth in a colander.

Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor but it’s very mild and extremely versatile! You can substitute quinoa in any recipe where you would normally use rice, and it’s great thrown into soups, casseroles, and even in hot breakfast cereals!

So why bother if rice is sufficient?  Because quinoa blows every other grain/seed out of the water! It’s known to be one of the healthiest grains on earth (albeit, not a grain, but hey…) Check this out:

“According to The National Academy of Sciences, quinoa is “one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom.”

“Quinoa is a source of all essential amino acids according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.” source

Additionally, quinoa is incredibly high in iron, potassium, B vitamins and because it contains all 8 amino acids that our body does not naturally produce, it’s a complete protein, so it’s thoroughly digestible (and very satisfying!).  Quinoa has become a staple in our house, simply because of the nutritional bang that you get for your buck.  As a bonus, I’m still nursing our little man, and quinoa is considered a nursing SUPERFOOD because of it’s high vitamin and mineral content, and because it actually helps increase lactation (though I’d personally stay away from the syrups in this recipe and use natural sweetener, it looks great!).

If you’re new to using quinoa, it can be hard to know where to start.

Here are some of my favorite quinoa recipes from around the web:

Baked Quinoa and Oatmeal Breakfast Squares

Chocolate Quinoa Porridge

Lentil Quinoa Salad

Five Grain Salad

Quinoa Salad With Tasso and Citrus Vinaigrette 

Cranberry and Cilantro Quinoa Salad

Quinoa and Apple Salad With Curry Dressing

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Gluten-Free Hot Breakfast Cereal

Quinoa Tabbouleh 

Quinoa Corn Salad

Quinoa Pudding (use whole milk, not skim!)

Greek-style Quinoa Burgers

Quinoa Spinach Bake

Quinoa, Apricot and Nut Clusters

Here is an entire recipe database of amazing quinoa-based recipes

What’s your favorite quinoa recipe?  share with us in the comments below and see if it ends up featured on Cheeky Bums facebook page!

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This post was linked to WLWW at Women Living Well, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable, Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, It’s a Keeper at Every Day Tastes, Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Friday Food Flicks at Traditional-Foods, Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health,  Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Homesteader Blog Carnival at The Morris Tribe, Homestead Blog Hop at The Prairies Homestead, Welcome Home Link Ups at Raising Arrows, Mentoring Mamas Monday at Simply Living for Him, Seasonal Celebrations at Natural Mother’s Network, Sunday School Blog Hop at Butter Believer, Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking TF, Fat Tuesdays at Real Food Forager,  Whole Foods Wednesday at Whole Lifestyle Nutrition