Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen – wa’) is a nutty flavoured grain originating in South America that has been cultivated in the Andes for over 5000 years. It comes in a creamy white, black or a red colour. It looks like tiny round seeds resembling cous cous somewhat but it’s completely different. For starters it’s packed with a lot more nutrition and it’s also a gluten-free grain (technically it’s actually a seed) suitable for those who need to stick to a gluten-free diet.
Nutritionally speaking quinoa is a good source of dietary fibre with about 4g per half cup cooked. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals including many of the b vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, potassium and copper. As a grain, while not super high in protein compared to meat, it has a high protein content compared to other grains.
But how do you eat it?
This is one very versatile grain so there’s many ways to incorporate it into your daily diet. You can find it sold as the grain, as a flour or even as flakes. So it can be used in many ways!
Here’s 10 ways to use it:
- Add cooked grains it into a salad
- Add cooked grains to tabouli instead of bulgur (wheat)
- Add grains it to soup, stew or casserole
- Make a porridge out of the grains
- Use the flakes as part of a breakfast cereal
- Substitute it for rice on the side of a stir-fry, casserole, stew or curry
- Add it to a patty or burger round
- Use it to replace some of the flour in cakes, muffins or bread
- Use it to replace some of the flour in pancakes or fritters
- Bulk up a frittata or quiche with it
Cooking Quinoa Grains…
Cooking quinoa grains is easy and these can be made in bulk and kept for days in an airtight container in the fridge or placed in the freezer for more long-term storage. Here’s how to cook quinoa grains.
Makes about 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups water
- Pinch salt
First rinse the quinoa grains to remove the ‘saponin’ (natural coating that can make it taste bitter or soap when cooked). Add the quinoa and water to a small saucepan on high heat and cook until boiling. Then reduce heat to low and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the water evaporates and the quinoa is cooked to your desired softness. Use quinoa in the above suggested ways!