Now if you survey the internet and browse through Google with the word “quinoa” you will be quickly overwhelmed with all the information about cooking quinoa, it’s health benefits, and some rather random facts. So I thought it will be a good idea to simplify all that information into a simple blog post. Even though it is a staple in my pantry, I try to make small amounts last as it only grows in few pockets of the world and takes a lot of resources to harvest. I do love my rice but sometimes quinoa just takes the meal to the next level, especially for some Mediterranean inspired meals.
The most important thing to address is the types of quinoa. There are three main types of quinoa: white, red and black. The white one is the most popular one (the one I tend to use) but the others are also fairly good. In my experience, the white one can take on other colours from spices such as yellow from turmeric or orange from saffron. The red and black ones are more grainy and have a more nuttier texture to them. You can certainly combine these three for an interesting combination and texture.
Quinoa is an ancient grain which was first cultivated by Andean people (cultures from present day Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador) about 3000 years ago. It was an important part of the Incan diet and was revered as one of their most important grains. Unfortunately, the conquistadors disdain of the Incas also meant their opposition to quinoa’s cultivation, so it lost its popularity.
Now this is the part that people love to rave about: the benefits
- Quinoa is considered by many as a super food. It is high in fibre and protein compared to more common grains such as millet, rice and wheat. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 20% of the fibre you need. Most importantly, it is a high quality protein source, containing all 9 essential protein without the junk that meat and diary products have.
- Looking at micronutrients, it is a good source of iron, Vitamin B-6 and magnesium.
- What people don’t focus on is its tendency to increase alkalinity. Some foods, mainly animal and dairy foods and some grains and legumes, have a tendency to increase acidity in our body which has detrimental effects on our bone health, energy and detoxification. Quinoa has alkaline forming properties which is important to balance the slight acidity of grains or legumes in a plant-based diet.
- It is also a complex carbohydrates so it keeps you full for longer.
It is very important to know how to cook quinoa. Like rice, people either overcook it, add to much water, or too little water. For all the types of quinoa. I advice a 1:2 ratio: One cup quinoa, 2 cups water. You want it fluffy but not sticky or dry. Combine the water and quinoa in a saucepan and let it cook at medium-low heat for about 15 mins until the water has evaporated and the grains are fluffy and cooked through. It should not tasty like little pellets but softer. Quinoa is SO VERSATILE and like my rice, I like to play around with different flavours, adding it to bowls or making a quick salad from it. Fun fact: because quinoa is gluten free it is also Kosher!
Quinoa does not have to be in its grain form. As a gluten free grain it is being used as also a flour and is gaining popularity. I personally like quinoa flour and add my flax seed egg replacer for a double shot of super food greatness. Check out my blog post on Flax Seeds for more info on the egg replacer.
I literally cannot reiterate enough how versatile Quinoa is. When I get bored of just regular oatmeal, I love to switch to quinoa flakes as a porridge. It cooks quickly, has a great silky texture and is absolutely delicious with some frozen fruit and nuts.
Hopefully, this can set you up on a quinoa loving lifestyle. I definitely can’t wait to try out more recipes with it.