Super Foods Blog: Part 1 of 3
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is a seed that originated from South America (Bolivia, Argentina and Peru) and has been a food staple of this region for thousands of years. This obscure food item has gained a lot of popularity because of its high nutritional content.
In comparison to other grains like rice or wheat, the crop has a high amount of protein (14.1g per 100g uncooked = equivalent to 2.5 eggs), dietary fibre (7g per 100g uncooked = equivalent to 4 Weetabix biscuits) and iron (4.6mg per 100g uncooked = equivalent to 100g beef steak). It is also gluten-free so makes it suitable for people with celiac disease and contains all 9 essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein source and suitable for vegans.
When quinoa is cooked it becomes fluffy and creamy yet has a slightly crunchy texture. It has a delicate and subtle nutty flavour, but in general doesn’t have much of a taste. This makes it very versatile for breakfast (as a cereal), lunch (as a salad) or dinner (as a side) as it absorbs the flavour of the food it is in.
In its natural state, quinoa has a bitter-tasting coating called saponins which makes it unpalatable, but most grains sold commercially have been processed to remove this coating. The best way to have quinoa for breakfast is to make quinoa porridge. The quinoa should be toasted in a pot on medium heat for a couple of minutes until they start turning golden. Then add in any kind of milk (cow, coconut, almond, soy etc) to the ratio of 4-part liquid to 1-part quinoa. Simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is soft then add in any type of toppings or flavourings (sugar, honey, fruit, nuts, yoghurt) to taste and it’s ready to be served.
To prepare quinoa for lunch and dinner, again it should be toasted in a pot on medium heat for a couple of minutes until they start turning golden. Then this time add in either water or stock (chicken, beef, vegetable) to the ratio of 2-part liquid to 1-part quinoa. Simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent. Herbs, spices, oils can then be added to flavour the quinoa, or it can be used as a rice substitute.