So what is it? Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein so ideal for vegetarians, vegans or anyone looking to increase their protein intake without adding more animal products. Of all the grains, it has the highest nutritional profile and cooks the fastest so practical as well. It is an extremely high energy grain and has been grown and consumed for about 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America. The Incas were able to run such long distances at such a high altitude because of this powerful grain! SO if you need something to keep you going, keep your blood sugar stable and your body well fed, quinoa is a great bet. Key benefits include:
- Gluten-free; easy to digest
- Ideal food for endurance
- Has a protein content equal to milk
- Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
- Strengthens the kidneys, heart, and lungs
- High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E
When quinoa is cooked, the outer germ surrounding the seed breaks open to form a crunchy coil, while the inner grain becomes soft and translucent. This double texture makes it delicious, versatile, and fun to eat. To save time, cook a lot of quinoa at once, and eat it as leftovers. Quinoa can be reheated with a splash of soy or nut milk for breakfast porridge; you can add dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad, or add chopped, cooked, root vegetables for a warming side dish.
Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Saponin, when removed from quinoa, produces a soapy solution in water. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use. Place quinoa in a grain strainer and rinse thoroughly with water. Then add one part quinoa (I measure with a smallish drinking glass) t two parts water and bring to boil then simmer for around 10-12 mins. Turn the heat off and leave it until all the water has been absorbed, then fluff it up before you serve it
Here is one of my favourite sauces to go with quinoa – Italian style with plenty of chunky veg – quick, easy, delicious and nutritious!
1 tin of organic tomatoes
A few broccoli florets and/or 1 leek
Onion -cut up roughly
2 cloves of garlic
Optional: A few chilli flakes, Black pepper, Splash of red wine, Tomato paste.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes (assuming the grains are already cooked and ready to mix in)
- Slice the courgette and leek into rounds, not too thin. Peel and then roughly cut up the garlic.
- Heat up a medium to large frying/sauce pan using a medium heat and add the olive oil
- Add the onion and garlic, and stir for a few minutes
- Add the vegetables and stir occasionally.
- After about 4 minutes add the tin of tomatoes and herbs. Add chilli if you like your food with a little kick! If you have some tomato paste already add a squeeze of this but no need to buy it especially if you don’t. Same goes for a splash of red wine.
- Give it a good stir, then leave for a few minutes to simmer. Stir occasionally. Taste and then add more herbs, perhaps some black pepper, to suit your taste buds.
- When its ready, mix in with your grains.
- Sit down and tuck in!