For my first ingredients post I’ve decided to write about Quinoa. Now the first time I tried this I really wasn’t too keen but now I’m a complete convert! Apparently quinoa is not a true grain, in fact its the seeds that we actually eat! Over recent years its become increasingly popular because its a ‘complete’ plant based food, packed full of protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre as well as enzymes, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Which all sounds great but what does it mean?! Basically its just so good for you! Its very unusual for a plant to contain so much protein and all the essential amino acids to support a healthy body so quinoa is obviously perfect for vegetarians. But it doesn’t mean its not for non vegetarians as being nutrient dense it makes a cheap and incredibly healthy addition to the diet. Its also low in carbohydrates which means it won’t spike your blood sugar levels and releases its energy slowly into the body.
Quinoa is available three varieties, white, red and black. These are interchangeable but will obviously change the appearance of the dish you are cooking and the darker grains have a slightly nuttier flavour. It is an unrefined grain which makes it the perfect alternative to couscous, pasta and white rice. I enjoy quinoa as its gluten free, but I’ve recently been told that some coeliacs find they can’t eat quinoa, not something I’d heard before.
I have three types of quinoa in my store cupboard, the first is an organic white quinoa (BioFair) which I use in most of my recipes. So quick and easy to prepare, its as simple as putting 1 part quinoa with 2 parts water in a pan, bringing to the boil and simmering covered for 10mins. Then remove from the heat and leave to stand for a further 10-15mins until the remaining water is absorbed. You’ll notice each seed has plumped up and popped showing a little halo! Its then ready to pack with delicious ingredients such as my Quinoa, Feta and Pomegranate Salad or season well with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and serve as an accompaniment instead of rice or couscous.
When I’m in such a hurry that there’s not even time to cook the quinoa I have emergency sachets of Merchant Gourmet Red & White Quinoa (Ready to Eat). You can literally rip open and serve as its already been seasoned! I haven’t tried this one hot as I don’t fancy cooking it in the pouch! The other product, a new one I’ve found, is a pre-cooked quinoa called NatureCrops Quinoa (Precooked). You simply pour boiling water over it and let it soak for about 3minutes before it’s ready to use. This one is more expensive than the other options.
I’ve recently tried cooking a batch of Quinoa at the beginning of the week and storing it in the fridge. It’s then ready to add whatever I fancy to it!! I’m not sure how long this good intention will last but so far so good and it makes a really convenient last minute supper! This week I’ve made roasted butternut squash with a herby quinoa and tahini dressing (expect to see this recipe on the blog soon as it was so delicious!) The other had a mad mixture of any ingredients I could find in the fridge, from onions, peppers and carrots to sun blushed tomatoes and feta with lots of lemon and fresh herbs and was also a really tasty supper dish. If you’ve never tried it, give it a go and pack it full of all your favourite ingredients, your body will love you!