Pronounced ‘Keen-wah’, quinoa is technically a seed but classed as a grain. It’s another plant based food which contains all the essential amino acids, hence it’s a great source of protein and is packed full of goodness.
Quinoa can be used in place of cous-cous or rice but also makes for a healthy breakfast alternative to porridge oats too!
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognised as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”
What is it?
As mentioned earlier, quinoa is a seed and is one of the oldest cultivated crops. According to Wikipedia, quinoa originates from the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was successfully domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption. The Incas referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or ‘mother of all grains’ and considered it one of the 3 most sacred crops.
As quinoa contains fatty acids it can go rancid fairly quickly so you need to use the packet, once opened within 4 weeks. It also helps if you store the quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge.
Why is quinoa good for me?
Quinoa offers a fantastic source of protein (12 – 18%) which contains all of the essential amino acids.
Quinoa is typically considered to be a valuable source of beneficial fats. About 25% of quinoa’s fatty acids come in the form of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat good for the heart, and about 8% come in the form of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA – the omega-3 fatty acid most commonly found in plants and associated with decreased risk of inflammation-related disease.
Quinoa also contains; manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, folate and phosphorus.
How to cook quinoa
Quinoa should not be eaten raw as it contains saponins which can cause digestive discomfort (wind) and also tastes unpleasant. It is also necessary to rinse quinoa well prior to cooking.
You can cook quinoa in the same way you would rice. 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water. Cook for about 15 minutes or until you see the seeds transform into little spiral shapes.
5 ways to cook with quinoa
- Quinoa Laksa (Singapore stew)
- Cook up like porridge and add fresh berries and maple syrup for a delicious breakfast
- Use in place of rice and add fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice
- Add to biscuit mixture
- Quinoa Tabbouleh