Pronounced “keen-whah”, quinoa is a superfood grain, and the perfect substitute for those avoiding wheat, rye, and gluten. It is also a low-GI alternative to high-GI carbohydrates such as white rice and white potatoes. The grain has numerous uses and various benefits including:
- being a “complete protein” with all the essential amino acids;
- being high in fiber;
- full of B vitamins;
- having a low glycaemic index of 53, which is helpful to keep blood sugar low;
- is high in minerals such as iron and magnesium; and
- having a higher nutritional value than most common grains.
Quinoa has a nutty flavor, with the different types varying slightly in flavor. The most common type is the yellow, but there is also orange, red and black and others.
How to Cook Quinoa
Cooking quinoa is very similar to cooking rice. It must be rinsed prior to cooking, as it has a soapy coating which can ruin the taste. After rinsing, simply boil the quinoa in two parts liquid. You can either boil the quinoa in plain water or, alternatively, you can boil it in chicken or vegetable stock, which can add an extra depth of flavor to it. Boil for ten to 15 minutes, until the quinoa is transparent and chewy and simply drain in a strainer.
How to Eat Quinoa
After boiling quinoa, it can be stored in an air-tight container and kept in the fridge for several weeks. It is, therefore, the perfect option to bulk cook and store to use as and when needed or for weekly food preparation in advance.
Quinoa can be used as an addition to salads or mixed with vegetables, in main meals and curries as a substitute for rice, and even as a breakfast item. As an alternative to breakfast oats, you can cook the quinoa in your milk of choice, and simply add honey, cinnamon, and nuts. Cooked quinoa can also be used in vegetarian and vegan cooking, thanks to its protein and amino acid content, and vegans can easily use it as a bulking agent in making vegan burgers patties, with zucchini or butternut.
Quinoa can be found at any health-food shop, and more large grocery retailers are now starting to stock the item due to its popularity.