Quinoa ( pronounced ‘keen-wa’) is a bit misunderstood. It is now one of the most popular superfoods and is used in many recipes from salads, bread, risotto to quinoa scones.
- People think it is a grain but actually it is a pseudocereal, which is really a seed. It is often called a grain by lots of health coaches, dietitians and nutritionist. Being a seed, it is a great food for people who have a hard time digesting grains and follow a gluten free diet.
- Quinoa is native to Central and South America and was one of the staple foods of people from Bolivia to Peru. The Inca called it the “mother grain” and was a vital source of nutrients.
- Quinoa is great for vegans or vegetarians as it is a complete protein, low on the glycemic index and easy to digest.
- Not only is it not a carbohydrate but it also rich in amino acids, has a lot of healthy minerals, protective omega oils, gluten free and fiber rich. It is so nutrient rich that NASA sent it into space with their astronauts.
- Protein rich quinoa has similar texture to grain when cooked, which is probably why it a popular substitute for rice or grains in recipes.
- One thing that anyone who is trying to eat healthy gets wrong is that by substituting quinoa for white rice or another carbohydrate is not going to help them lose weight. It actually has 3 times more calories than rice.
- There are over 120 varieties if quinoa but the most common ones are the red or ivory quinoa. You can buy quinoa from the whole grains aisles in your local store and store it in an airtight container for up to 6 months or in the fridge during hot weather.
How to cook quinoa
1. One of the most popular suggestions on how to cook quinoa is to cook it and use it like rice. It is often used as a rice substitute. Be careful though as it has more calories than rice, gram for gram.
2. Preparing your quinoa for cooking, give it a rub. I learnt this from some Peruvian chefs as they really revere, they “activate” the grains by rubbing it between the palms in a clockwise direction before cooking.
3. Always rinse your quinoa as it is coated in a bitter substance called saponins that protects the seeds.
4. Always drain the quinoa as it holds on to a lot of water after cooking. This doesn’t matter if you are making quinotto.
5. Use 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
6. You can cook it exactly like rice in a pot or a rice cooker.
Written by May Chong
Wikipedia, Telegraph.co.uk, Youtube.