Quinoa. Everyone's talking about it; it's popping-up in supermarkets, greengrocers and butcher stores; so here's our quick guide to it.
We've written about it before, and provided a recipe (see the end of the article), but there's still a lot of confusion around about the new superfood, quinoa. Here's a 'Quinoa 101' - six useful tips to help you know more about this very healthy and nutritious food.
1. What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (keen-wah) is a seed of a relative of spinach and is considered a 100% whole grain like brown rice or barley; it has a perfect balance of nutrients and proteins.
2. How do you buy it?
It's available in brown, red or white, and mostly in organic varieties. The best value is bulk versus packaged, but always read price per kilo.
3. What to look for
Check the package labels for organic/non-organic source and whether it’s only quinoa or other added grains for quinoa “pilaf.”
4. How to use it
Cook quinoa like rice; cover it with water and boil until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use it in a rice cooker with 1 part quinoa and 2 parts liquid. Use cold or room temperature in salads (as pictured) or hot as a cereal, side dish, plain, or with vegetables. Use it as you would any grain, but note that the taste is mild and lightly nutty. It goes well with either fruits or vegetables and with other grains for a heartier flavour. It's also gluten-free.
5. Health benefits
Quinoa is a complete protein (12-18% protein) plus all 9 amino acids, including lysine which helps the body process protein, and is equivalent or superior to protein in dairy products. It also has niacin, thiamin and B6, high levels of potassium and riboflavin; it's a good source of zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, folic acid, and vitamin E. One third of a cup of cooked quinoa has 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fibre, and 6 grams of protein.
6. Best buy
If new to quinoa, choose the red variety for a hearty flavour.