Quinoa, pronounced keen-wa, is an ancient grain originating in South America. It was the staple food of the Incas and is still consumed in Peru and other countries as a dietary staple. Quinoa has now gained popularity in the west due to it’s great health benefits and you can now buy it in most supermarkets, as well as health food shops.
Quinoa is a gluten-free grain, making it suitable for coeliacs and those with a sensitivity to wheat or gluten. Quinoa boasts the highest protein content of any grain is high in nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Quinoa is often recommended by naturopaths as an alternative to wheat or rice for those that have digestive issues. Quinoa is also one of the few alkaline grains, meaning that it is antiinflammatory in nature and helps to balance your bloods pH. Quinoa is also a complex carbohydrate making it ideal for weight loss, diabetics and those with blood sugar imbalances.
The seed coating contains a compound called saponins which can irritate the intestines, so quinoa must be soaked and washed under running water thoroughly to remove them. Not preparing quinoa correctly can lead to an upset digestion, so make sure you follow the instructions below.
To prepare quinoa:
- 1 cup quinoa + 1 1/2 cups cold water
- Soak overnight then rinse under running water OR soak for 15 minutes then rinse under running water for 3-5 minutes. The first option is more effective and better for the environment as it uses less water.
- Drain quinoa well in a fine sieve.
- Place quinoa in a pot and add the water.
- Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer.
- Cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to sit five minutes with lid on.
- Fluff gently with a fork and serve.
Quinoa is delicious on it’s own or served with anything you would normally use rice or cous-cous for.
You can tell when quinoa is cooked – the edge of the seed separates as a white spiral and the seed turns clear.
Try adding the rinsed grain to soups and casseroles or make quinoa porridge.