It looks like grain, but it's not. It's closely related to spinach and beets but resembles neither. And it's not pronounced the way you'd think it should be. But once ground into flour, quinoa seeds have a transformative effect on cooking, particularly for gluten-free foodies.
What Is It?
Quinoa (KEEN-wah) flour is simply raw quinoa seeds ground into powder. But it's those seeds' incredible nutritional value that makes the flour special. Quinoa is high in fiber and minerals and is considered a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids necessary to humans.
But as if good nutritional value weren't enough, quinoa is very easy to digest and is gluten-free. This makes it an ideal food for vegetarians, vegans and those on gluten-free or restricted diets. Substituting quinoa flour for wheat flour (or using it to supplement wheat flour) provides a ready source of protein that's literally easy to swallow.
How Do I Use It?
Quinoa flour is a bit coarser than wheat flour and has a nutty flavor. It can be substituted for wheat (or other gluten flours) in most recipes but not always in a 1-to-1 ratio. If your diet isn't restricted, you can safely swap out half the wheat flour in most recipes; more than this may have an adverse effect on the recipe. Gluten-free cooks can add quinoa flour to other nongrain flours (such as soy or buckwheat) to lighten the consistency of their recipes. Beyond baking, quinoa flour can be used in place of wheat flour for breading, thickening soups or even coating baking pans - anywhere you'd like a little surreptitious nutritional boost.
By Linda Daniels, Free Range Cookies
Linda Daniels likens these gluten-free treats to oatmeal cookies.
Yield | 20 cookies |
- ½ cup quinoa flour
- ½ cup ripe banana, mashed
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- ¼ cup mesquite flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground ginger
- 1 pinch cardamom
- 1¼ cups quinoa flakes
| Preparation | Toast the quinoa flour by spreading it evenly on parchment-lined baking sheets and baking for about an hour at 225ºF. Let flour cool completely before storing in airtight bags.
Blend banana, brown sugar, canola oil and vanilla extract in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine quinoa flour, brown rice flour, mesquite flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix by hand. Fold in quinoa flakes.
Let dough chill in fridge for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Form dough into balls, about 1½ Tbsp each, and drop onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Press each cookie once with tines of a fork to flatten slightly. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.