The Major Mistake You Make When Cooking Quinoa

Photo: Stocksy/Marti Sans
Quinoa is nothing short of a superfood—brimming with plant-based protein, containing nine essential amino acids, and packing plenty of vitamins and nutrients. It's deliciously nutty flavor and nutritional stats should be reason enough make it a staple in every household. But if you haven't quite fallen in love with it yet, or you find it hard to look past a bitter aftertaste, there might be a simple explanation—and it has to do with the cooking process.

The hearty seed needs to be rinsed as part of the preparation. Unwashed quinoa is coated in naturally-occurring saponins, which give it a bitter taste that puts off hungry birds and insects. That sort of protection is good for quinoa farming, but not so much for hungry humans. Not only does the phytochemical affect flavor, it also has the potential to cause stomach aches, diarrhea, and digestive irritation.

Removing the saponins requires only a quick wash with tap water. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer (like this one from Amazon) under running water, moving it around with your hand to make sure it gets thoroughly cleaned. Your quinoa is now ready to cook!

How to cook quinoa

  1. Rinse 3/4 cup dry quinoa through a fine sieve.
  2. Place it into a pot with 1½ cups water, and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer quinoa for 13-15 minutes, or until water has been absorbed.
  4. Remove quinoa from heat and allow it to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff quinoa with a fork.

This turmeric pumpkin quinoa oatmeal makes for the perfect breakfast. Or, whip up these mushroom-beet-quinoa veggie burgers.

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