Thursday, February 16, 2012

February Specials and Quinoa the Superfood

The new catalogs are out, and I have updated the links on the side of the blog with the new digital catalog link as well as the February specials. Mixed Bell Peppers, Taco TVP, Blueberries, and all the Freeze Dried Yogurts are on sale this month, along with a few other items. Check it out and let me know if you want to order anything.

Alright. Now that I've gotten some business taken care of, I'm going to talk a little bit about quinoa, in preparation of some quinoa recipes I have coming up. 

When it comes to food storage staples, your big contenders are wheat, rice and beans, but I've never been a huge fan of stocking up on them, personally. Wheat, because I don't want to have to grind it. Beans, because I don't want to have to soak them and cook for hours. (THRIVE Instant Beans have saved me there. 20 minutes and they're done. Woohoo!) And then rice, because it is so nutritionally void.

So I have been searching for a grain that I don't have to grind, that cooks up quickly, and that packs a big nutritional punch. And the name that kept popping up was Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). If you listen to Dr. Oz or Jillian Michaels, you've probably heard of it too. This rising star of the "superfood" world is actually not technically a grain, but a small grain-like seed that is related more to beets and spinach than any traditional grain. It originates in the Andes Mountain region of South America. It is gluten free, will last 20 years in the can, cooks in 20 minutes like rice, but unlike white rice is a nutritional powerhouse! I know that brown rice is much healthier than its white counterpart, but the parts that make it healthier, also make it less shelf stable, and thus not a good option for long term food storage.
Thrive quinoa, with my finger for size comparison 

To show you what I mean by nutritional powerhouse, here is a break down of the nutritional info of quinoa vs. white rice (medium grain, unenriched). All the data was taken from the USDA National Nutrient Database.

Per 100 g, uncooked Quinoa White Rice 
Energy (kcal) 368 360
Carbs (g) 64 79
Fat (g) 6 0.58
Protein (g) 14 6.6
Fiber (g) 7 0
Calcium (mg) 47 9
Iron (mg) 4.57 0.8
Magnesium (mg) 197 35
Potassium (mg) 563 86
Sodium (mg) 5 1
Zinc (mg) 3.1 1.16
Thiamin (mg) 0.36 0.07
Riboflavin (mg) 0.318 0.048
Niacin (mg) 1.52 1.6
vitamin B-6 (mg) 0.487 0.145
Folate (mcg_DFE) 184 9
Vitamin A, RAE (mcg_RAE) 1 0
Vitamin A, IU (IU) 14 0
Vitamin E (mg) 2.44 0
Cholesterol (mg) 0 0

Did you notice the protein and fiber? Incredible, huh? And for all you dieters out there, don't turn your nose up at the presence of fat. Keep in mind that our bodies do need some fat, and since oil doesn't store very well, having some fat in your shelf stable grains is a major advantage.

So how do you cook quinoa? Just like rice. 1 part quinoa + 2 parts water. Combine in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Note that quinoa will float if you pour it into the water, so just stir it up a little before you turn on the heat.

Quinoa floating on top of the water
 Just like rice, you can cook it to your preference too. Some people prefer theirs a little more dry, some people add a touch more water and cook it longer, having a much mushier texture. 

Cooked THRIVE Quinoa. This is a mushier batch, as you can see by how much it sticks to the spoon.

How does it taste? Well, it isn't something I would cook to eat plain. I tried some cooked, unsalted, and it wasn't  my favorite. I wouldn't be able to get my family to eat it that way. But I've also cooked it with some bouillon and veggies, and it was pretty good.

Quinoa cooked with THRIVE Corn, mixed bell peppers, carrots, and chicken bouillon.

I also took the boring plain stuff, seasoned it after the fact, and made some cheesy quinoa bites out of it that went over pretty well at a party I did recently. So with the right add ins, it can be quite tasty stuff. 

I went to my local Wal-mart and Fry's to see how much their quinoa costs, and they both only sold it in 12 oz packages for $5.99. That's $7.98 a pound. And it is not packaged in an oxygen free environment (which you want if you're planning on storing long term). THRIVE, on the other hand, sells a #10 can for $19.39, which gives you 4.3 pounds. So that is $4.50 a pound, in an oxygen- free, sealed can.  If you would like to order some, just contact me and I will make that happen.

And more quinoa recipes will come, so stay tuned! Also, if you have your own favorite quinoa recipes, please share. I am eager to incorporate this super food into our diet as much as possible!

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