Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a type of vegetable that is typically used like a grain and may be substituted in recipes in place of pasta, rice, or other grains. The name quinoa actually means mother grain, but this easily digested food is nutritionally closer to kale and spinach than it is to rice or oats. When making quinoa stuffing, it can be used in place of other common stuffing ingredients such as rice or bread.
Since this food is frequently used by the health conscious, it is not unusual for quinoa stuffing to be very high in fiber and low in fat. It may contain a variety of other vegetables to add color, flavor, and texture. Quinoa stuffing is often used to stuff vegetables such as acorn squash or bell peppers instead of being used as a stuffing for turkey or chicken, though it works for those as well.
One of the benefits of quinoa stuffing is that quinoa itself is unique among grains in several ways. Among the most important pluses of this food is that, unlike other grains, it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which can be important to vegetarians and vegans; quinoa alone can supply many of their dietary requirements without the need to be used in combination with another grain. Other benefits include the high level of magnesium, making quinoa very heart friendly, and the relatively large amounts of copper and manganese, both of which help to boost the immune system. It is also high in fiber, which adds to its appeal for many people.
To prepare quinoa stuffing, first the grain must be soaked for about 15 minutes, then thoroughly rinsed before being cooked; otherwise, it is likely to be bitter. Once it is clean it is ready to be cooked. A basic recipe for quinoa stuffing typically includes cooking the grain in either chicken or vegetable broth, then adding foods such as broccoli, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and cheese. Since it tastes a bit like a mixture of oatmeal and brown rice, quinoa can be successfully used in many stuffing recipes.
Another way to make quinoa stuffing is to first sprout the grain and then add it to stuffing. Sprouting changes the texture of the grain and gives food an additional crunch as well as some extra color. The sprouts are typically at their best if they are mixed in after any other vegetables are cooked and before the stuffing is served. They can also be used to garnish other dishes, such as quinoa-stuffed squash.