Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Quinoa, Millet and my Four-Grain Congee

With my naked eyes, I could only tell the difference by color(see below). Quinoa and Millet - some of the other (newer) grains I have recently adopted in my brown rice + red cargo rice + pasta carb-group. My latest craze must be walking down the grains, seeds and nuts aisle in Whole Foods. Like a teen or toddler in a candy shop, I got hooked on those see-through dispensers and transparent containers of grains, seeds, nuts etc. Practically, I just buy the quantity I want by turning those (irreversible) knobs. How dangerous for a shopper on a budget...

Left: Quinoa; Right: Millet

Other than the Pine Nuts I've got (the other nuts are replenished from Trader Joes otherwise), I also bought my quinoa and millet from Whole Foods. The ANDI (stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) surely comes handy along the way, making it so much more interesting to choose my grains and nuts. Handy ANDI!

Quinoa Congee
I am totally new to quinoa though I have often seen them appearing in food blogs. But I am not new to millet and they look almost similar. If I could use millet to cook my congee, surely I can use quinoa? No idea. Just try. That less than 1 dollar worth of quinoa dispensed from the builk aisle is surely not going to be an expensive mistake. What can go more wrong than cooking congee ?

Congee. A no-brainer?
The cult out there is going to tell me cooking congee requires no skills whatsoever. Basically, just add water and boil the grains and add more water if the water seems to be drying out or when the grains are not cooked. That is also how you adjust the level of consistency you want for your congee. Some like it thick and gluey while others like it thin and watery. Your pick. More water. Less water. How long you want to boil. But another cult-following will tell me - NO. Cooking perfect congee details from the start of choosing the type of grains, soak time (before you cook the grains), water, cooking time etc etc. Whatever.

At home, as long as it is tasty, nutritious and easy for me, I will do it.

Cheers to my bowl of watery mixed wholesome congee made from brown rice, red cargo rice, millet and quinoa. My four-grain congee!

Tip 1: Congee is actually the best way to combine variety of grains because it is less "water- and time-stringent" compared to cooking rice. As said above, you just add and add water till all the grains are cooked in the congee. That cannot be done when cooking rice cos' the white rice will turn completely mushy when the red cargo rice cooks perfect, vice-versa.

Tip 2: If you feel under the weather or just have your wisdom tooth extracted, the "water" of this congee is something easiest to down and gives you loads of Vitamin Bs. I will drink to that.

Tip 3: You might also like to add barley, green beans, rolled oats to this mix.

On microscopic examination, quinoa actually looks quite different from millet. It is flatter while millet is definitely rounder.

Better late than never
Quinoa is a balanced amino acid source (contains 8 amino acids including lysine, cystine and methionine), complete protein with a low glycemic index. It also contains calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B and fiber. . Quinoa is also gluten-free, suitable for those on a vegetarian, vegan, diabetic and gluten-free diet.

I know a lot of you make salad out of quinoa or eat them like rice. But for now, I am happy with congee.

This four-grain congee (of brown rice, red cargo rice, millet - 小米 and quinoa - 藜麦 or 小小米 ) goes to Blogger Secret Ingredient (BSI) - Rice, at Mo's Kitchen.

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