I am a huge advocate of Quinoa due to its nutritious value and versatility to complement most dishes. It can be enjoyed with or without meat and easily makes the short-list of my Top 10 Super Foods (upcoming post).
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) originates from South America. This type of grain is very unique. Not only are the grains rich in protein (13%-17%) , it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need as well as vitamins B2, E & A.
It is higher in iron than other any other grain, is gluten free and is easily digestible, making it suitable staple for vegetarians and vegans.
Quinoa can be found in three colours, Black, Red and White. The grains can be purchased separately or mixed together, which is also known as Tricolour Quinoa. The darker colours of the Black and Red grains can only be described an earthy, somewhat grainy flavour that is brilliantly balanced with the softer and fluffier flavour of the white grains. Once cooked and served up, you will have a beautiful looking plate full of flavour and colour *the more colours on your plate, the healthier the dish*
This super grain makes an excellent alternative to rice / couscous. It almost trebles in weight once cooked and works well in soups and salads.
How to cook Quinoa
- Wash the grains thoroughly under warm water before covering them with cold water (make sure the water is at least 1 inch above the grains).
- Bring to the boil and let it simmer for approximately 10 mins, ensuring you have a lid covering it. If the grains have not fully absorbed the water after 10 minutes, turn the cooker off and let it sit for up to 5 minutes (still keeping the lid on).
- You will know when the grains are cooked when you can visibly see the little transparent gems in the centre of the grain.
As mentioned previously, Quinoa is incredibly versatile to cook with. Whilst experimenting in my kitchen a few months back, I prepared a home-made Quinoa Superfood Salad (main picture in this post) . The ingredients used were a few cubed sweet potato chunks, 1 diced chicken breast (baked), a handful of green pitted olives, diced pineapples for extra flavour and sweetness carefully laid on a bed of fresh uncooked spinach leaves.