Quinoa flour is a key ingredient in many gluten-free recipes, but it's not always easy to find at the store. When you do find it, the product may be prohibitively expensive. You can grind quinoa at home to make quinoa flour, but you must have an appropriate grinder and take steps to store the flour properly to keep it from going rancid. Find whole quinoa in the bulk section of natural food stores or alongside rice products at grocery stores.
Introduction to Quinoa
Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wah," is a superfood originally grown in the Andes mountains, where its powerful nutritional content was said to give strength to the Inca warriors. Quinoa isn't technically a grain -- it is the seed of a plant related to beets and chard -- and can be eaten safely by people with grain or gluten allergies. Quinoa is high in protein and provides a healthy amount of iron, calcium, folate and other key vitamins and minerals. According to the Whole Grains Council, the protein in quinoa is considered a complete protein--meaning it contains all amino acids essential for human health. This makes it an attractive food for vegetarians and vegans.
To grind quinoa flour, rinse the seeds in a fine sieve, then spread a thin layer of quinoa onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toast it in a 350-degree-Fahrenheit oven for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during the baking time. Allow the quinoa to cool, then process it in a grain mill or in a clean spice or coffee grinder. Most blenders and food processors are not suitable for grinding the tiny quinoa seeds. Use ground quinoa immediately or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. A cup of whole quinoa will make just under a cup of flour.
Using Quinoa Flour
If you simply want to add the nutty flavor of quinoa to breads, cookies and other baked goods, replace up to 50 percent of the wheat flour in most recipes with quinoa flour. Baking completely gluten-free goodies requires a little bit more work. Karina Allrich at Gluten-Free Goddess recommends blending the heavier quinoa flour with lighter flours, such as white rice flour, tapioca starch or potato starch. You may also need to increase the liquids in the recipe; add more binding ingredients such as eggs or xantham gum; and adjust the baking time or temperature. If you're used to baking with wheat flours, baking with gluten-free flours requires a sense of adventure and a willingness to experiment. In time, your efforts can lead to delectable results.
Simmer whole quinoa in water or broth until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy, then use it in place of rice in any recipe. Use it as a base for stir-fries or stews, or add it stuffed peppers or meatloaf. Make a healthy hot breakfast cereal by cooking quinoa with dried fruit and maple syrup.
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images