By now, most of you have probably met the lovely little quinoa since its popularity soared just a couple of years ago.
This ancient little grain (well, its technically a seed) that features on many modern menus has become a staple in many households, including my own. There are many reasons why I love this little grain and why I invited it into our household.
The dietitian side of me loves that it:
- has a higher protein content than other grains providing all essential amino acids
- is gluten free for those who require a gluten free diet
- contains omega-6 polyunsaturated fats for our heart health
- B group vitamins and magnesium for energy production
- antioxidants such as vitamin A and flavonoids for chronic disease prevention minerals such as potassium for blood pressure regulation AND
- has a low Glycemic Index (GI), meaning it can stabolise blood glucose levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
The foodie side of me just loves its aesthetic appeal and nutty texture, with the choice of white, red or black (I like to mix them purely for aesthetic purposes).
I can’t say that I love quinoa for its taste and flavour, as it really doesn’t have any. But I love that it is a blank canvas to soak up many different flavours.
I use quinoa in a variety of different ways. I add it to soups in winter, to salads to ensure I have a bit of carbohydrate in my meal and I use it as an alternative to rice to mix things up. As I previously mentioned, it cant claim to be the tastiest of grains but why not add a splash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, cook it in stock instead of water or add spices such as cumin, coriander seeds or paprika to make it more interesting?
Grains in our diet serve so many purposes beyond nutrient provision, so if you are looking for a new grain to introduce to the household, why not try quinoa?
Try this recipe that I recreated in my own kitchen after being inspired by a dish on the menu at one of my favourite Adelaide restaurants.
This dish is high in fibre, high in protein, a good source of low GI carbohydrates and is packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Use it as a side or a main.
1/3 of a cup of white quinoa (this will yield ~1 cup cooked)
1/3 of a cup of red quinoa (this will yield ~1 cup cooked)
½ of a cup of black lentils (this will yield ~ 1 cup cooked)
½ a pink lady apple, thinly sliced with skin on
1 cup of rocket (or as desired)
½ cup of parsley finely chopped
¼ cup of olive oil
Juice of one small lemon or as desired)
1. Cook lentils - bring water to a boil and add the lentils. Boil for 2-3 minutes and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender (~25-30 minutes). Lentils must not be overcooked or they will become soft and mushy.
2. While the lentils are cooking, rinse the white and red quinoa and cook - use 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Simmer, covered, for ~15 minutes or until the liquid has absorbed and the germ turns opaque and splits from the seed (this will resembles little curls).
3. Cut the apple and make the dressing while the lentils and quinoa are cooking. To make the dressing just combine the lemon juice, olive oil and chopped parsley (it can be blended in a small food processor).
4. Once the lentils and quinoa are cooked, combine them with the rocket and the dressing.
5. Top the salad with the chopped apple and teaspoons of goats cheese (as pictured).
I love this recipe because it is pleasing to the eye and the palate with different textures, colours and lovely flavours. I am sure it will impress all of your family and friends and it is so easy to create.