Updated: Oct 31
They all sound different but they all refer to the same little super seed that ticks so many boxes for nutritious content, health benefits and versatility.
It’s often treated like a grain, served up instead of rice or pasta. But actually it’s the seed of Chenopodium quinoa plant, quite a gorgeous striking plant, found in the Andean region of South America.
So what makes this little seed so almighty? It’s particularly high in fibre, vitamins B and E, minerals (particularly iron, magnesium, calcium, copper and zinc), healthy fats and protein. What makes the protein element so special is that it’s one of the few plant based sources of protein which contains all of the essential amino acids (these are the protein building blocks that we need to get from our diet and plant based sources of protein are often missing one or more of them). Plus, it’s gluten free, so a great alternative wholegrain for those with Coeliac disease.
What all this means, is that quinoa is packed full of nutrients which can help with...
Blood pressure control
Blood sugar control
So really, including it in your diet is a no-brainer!
I’ll pre-empt your next question. ‘How on earth do I cook it?’
It’s actually pretty simple.
Thoroughly wash the seeds in a fine-meshed sieve before using to remove any leftover saponins (the seed coat of the quinoa which tastes pretty bitter if it’s not rinsed off).
Add one part quinoa to two parts liquid in a saucepan. You’ll get triple the amount of quinoa so 1 cup dried quinoa will give you 3 cups of cooked.
Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.
They will gradually become translucent and look like they have little white tails. This takes around 15-20 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and if need be drain off any excess water
So what can you then do with this lovely cooked quinoa? Here’s some ideas for you…
Cook the quinoa with milk, stir in some cinnamon, nuts and fruits to the quinoa and you’ve got a twist on breakfast porridge
Add to soups or salads for added protein
Serve in place of rice in stir fries
Use as a coating to make fish fingers or chicken nuggets
Make a risotto (see recipe below)
Arancini balls - a favourite in this household
However… word of caution if you have a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Quinoa is quite high in oxalates and so for you, this may not be a food you want to be eating in large quantities.
Green Quinoa Risotto Recipe
This is a gorgeous twist on a risotto, using quinoa instead of risotto rice. And a great way to get some green veggies in. The recipe is from the lovely Charlotte at Refill Revolution Oundle. You can check her out here
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
2 garlic cloves
8 asparagus spears
8 Tenderstem broccoli stems
150g frozen peas
Handful rocket leaves
1tsp Dijon mustard
3tbsp milk (or milk alternative)
1tsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper
Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic
Chop the asparagus and broccoli into small pieces
Chop the courgette lengthways and then slice into half moon shapes
Pop the onion and garlic into a saucepan with a splash of olive oil and some seasoning. Gently heat for around 5 minutes, or until softened.
Stir the quinoa in and then pour over the stock. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the quinoa is light and fluffy
Put the asparagus, broccoli and courgette into a frying pan, drizzle over some olive oil and seasoning and saute until soft
Place the frozen peas in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 2-3 minutes before draining. Blend the peas with the juice of the lemon, 3tbsp olive oil, the mustard, milk and nutritional yeast until smooth
Combine the quinoa mixture, green vegetables and pea puree and mix together
Serve with rocket and black pepper