Adding quinoa to a dish, builds bulk, texture and protein. It’s a whole grain with tons of benefits. When I was first introduced to quinoa I was baffled by it’s “fish egg” appearance and wondered just how to incorporate it into my cooking. I now enjoy using different varieties and have found it to be very versatile. Here are three things you probably should know about quinoa:
1) Quinoa has the perfect balance of all nine amino acids essential for human nutrition. This type of complete protein is rarely found in plant foods, though common in meats. Quinoa also offers a good dose of fiber and iron. It contains about 110 calories per 1/2 cup cooked, similar to rice or pasta.
2) Quinoa seeds are coated with saponin, a bitter substance that protects the seeds from predators. However, most quinoa sold in the U.S. is pre-rinsed so there’s no need to do this. But I’m fairly cautious so I go ahead and give it a rinse: put the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve, and run it under water for about 20-30 seconds.
3) I love to cook my quinoa is my rice cooker, but to cook quinoa on the stove top, combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water (or broth) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. When it’s cooked it will look slightly translucent and the white “string,” which is actually part of the hull, will be visible. One cup dry quinoa yields 3 cups cooked or 6 (½-cup) servings.
In this recipe the quinoa is added dry to the slow cooker along with all the ingredients including 3 cups of chicken broth, which helps cook the quinoa. I love all the fabulous flavors in this chili. Cumin, chili powder and garlic make it come alive. Plus it takes just a few minutes to open cans and jars of beans, crushed tomatoes and salsa, making this dish a snap to make. The slow cooker does the hard work! For more Mexican flair, try adding a can of corn.
- Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili
- 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (16-ounce) jar mild or medium salsa
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon chicken base)
- 2 large chicken breasts, frozen or thawed, cook longer if frozen
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Light sour cream
- Shredded Mexican-blend cheese
- Tortilla strips
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine all ingredients except toppings into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-7 hours until chicken is done and quinoa is cooked.
- Remove the chicken and shred it with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir into the chili.
- Serve with light sour cream, cheese and tortilla strips if desired.
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