Quinoa is the foodie’s buzzword of 2014. Described as a superfood and a ‘miracle grain’ among other things, it is now a staple ingredient on trendy cafe menus and is used in everything from salads to muffins.
Quinoa was an essential food for the Incas for 50,000 years, where it was grown high up in the South American Andes. When the Spanish came to South America they did not know its value and almost wiped it out by by making it illegal for the native Indians to grow. It wasn’t until the 1980s that two Americans rediscovered the benefits of quinoa and started growing it in Colorado.
While it is often described as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed and a complete protein. This means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids humans need so it really does deserve the superfood title. It is high in riboflavin and is low GI making it great for those trying to manage their weight. It’s also gluten-free so perfect for those with coeliac disease or other form of gluten intolerance.
There are many ways you can enjoy this health food at home, whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
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Quinoa Porridge – Serves two
This is the perfect warming and nourishing breakfast in the winter months. Berries are full of antioxidants and walnuts are a rich source of omega-3. If you are on a dairy-free diet you can replace the milk with soy, almond or even quinoa milk.
1 cup of dry white quinoa
2 1/3 cups of milk
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of frozen berries
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons of honey
1. Rinse quinoa under cold running water until the water runs clear.
2. Bring two cups of milk to the boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Keep an eye on it because it will boil quickly.
3. Add the quinoa and sea salt and mix until well incorporated.
4. Once the quinoa and milk come to the boil, reduce heat and cover, leaving a small gap for air. Cook for 10 minutes.
5. Add the berries, cinnamon and vanilla and cook for a further five minutes.
6. Turn off heat and leave to stand, covered for five minutes.
7. Add the extra milk if desired and top with honey and walnuts.
Lentil & Quinoa Soup – Serves four
There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of soup, and this one is packed full of health benefits. Lentils are also high in protein and the spices provide vitamins and minerals like iron and manganese. If you are looking for a non-vegetarian option you can add some cooked shredded chicken or chopped chorizo.
1 cup of brown lentils
1/2 cup of quinoa
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
1 cup of green beans, roughly chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of turmeric
6 cups of vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of chopped coriander, to garnish
1. Rinse lentils and quinoa under cold running water and set aside.
3. Add onions and garlic and sauté until soft, around five minutes.
4. Add carrots, celery and green beans and continue to cook for a further five minutes.
5. Add spices and cook until fragrant, around one minute.
6. Add stock, tomatoes, lentils and quinoa then season.
7. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
8. Remove from heat and top with chopped coriander before serving.