Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an ancient South American grass seed that has been cultivated as a food source and exploded onto the western market in recent times, and for good reason! This starchy seed is very similar to a grain – but isn’t, is gluten free, and an incredibly rich source of protein. It also contains all 8 essential amino acids, almost all B vitamins (excluding B12), vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, iron, potassium, has a low GI, and is very high in fibre. Quinoa also contains extremely high amounts of flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, known antioxidants that have proven anticancer, antiviral, antiinflammatory and antidepressant properties.
Quinoa has a beautifully nutty flavour and works well in almost any dish. It can be used as a replacement for rice and other grains, and has been adapted to many different forms; ground to make flour, puffed to make a cereal, flaked to be used similarly to oats, or dehydrated and eaten raw for a crunchy texture (often added to raw chocolate in this form – delish!). It also can be found in different colours, black, red and white, with each different grain having a subtle difference in taste to the others.
Quinoa contains naturally occurring Saponins (an in-built insecticide) which causes a very bitter taste, as well as phytic acid, so it is important to soak the seeds in filtered water with a dash of apple cider vinegar for at least 2 hours and wash thoroughly before cooking. Quinoa is super easy and quick to cook, follow these steps for tasty and perfectly cooked quinoa:
1. Soak and wash 2 cups of quinoa
2. Place quinoa into a small-medium sized saucepan with 1 cup of water and 2 cups of bone broth or homemade stock
3. Bring to a boil and turn down to a light simmer immediately, let simmer for 15 minutes
4. Once water and broth has been absorbed, remove from the heat to cool for 10-15 minutes
5. Gently ‘fluff’ the quinoa by dragging a fork through the pot until seeds are quite loose
For a delicious quinoa tabouleh recipe, click here!