Have you ever looked at quinoa and said to your self “How do I use that?” or wondered what is so good about this ‘ancient grain?’ Well, look no further! Here is your brief guide to quinoa (‘keen-wa’), including an easy recipe for you to try.
Quinoa has been grown in South America for thousands of years and is a seed from a vegetable that is related to Swiss chard, spinach, and beets. While there are many varieties, the most common are white, red, and black. White quinoa is widely available in stores, but if you can locate red quinoa, it tends to hold its shape better after cooking making it more suitable for cold salads. All types will have the same nutritional highlights. Quinoa is most popular for being a wheat free, complex carbohydrate, starch product that is also a complete protein source. This means that it can be used for meatless meals as well as being a great choice for vegetarians or vegans who may not be able to get enough protein throughout their day. Along with being high in protein, it is also a good source of fibre and micronutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, and many B vitamins.
I love using quinoa as it is such a versatile product. It can be used throughout all meals in your day, as well as, in snacks such as granola bars. With a nutritional profile like that, it isn’t a bad addition to your weekly meal routine! Personally, I cook mine in water, but if you’re looking for a bit more depth in the flavour, try a low sodium broth. Always wash your quinoa in a strainer first as this gets rid of the bitter coating that surrounds the seed. Use it in porridges for breakfast, keep a stock cold in the fridge for lunch salads, or as an accompaniment to your chicken supper much like rice is used. My favourite way to use quinoa is in a cold salad with tons of vegetables, feta cheese, and an balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Recipe below!
Quinoa Salad – Serves two as a meal and four as a side dish
1 cup Quinoa
1 1/2 cups Water
2 stalks Celery, thinly sliced
2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
1 Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Cucumber, diced
1/4 cup crumbled low fat Feta Cheese
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Lemon, squeezed
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Rinse quinoa in a strainer with cold water. Place in saucepan and add water, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 12 to 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. White rings will form around quinoa when cooked and the seeds themselves will be tender to eat. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for five minutes. (Some quinoa varieties may have different cooking instructions, so follow those!). Place in a bowl and in the fridge to cool. Meanwhile, chop up vegetables and feta. Mix together balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper in a separate container. Add veggies and dressing to quinoa once cooled and mix. Let sit for at least 15 minutes for flavours to combine.
For one serving of meal size:
Energy: 595 kcal Carbs: 76 g Fibre: 9 g Protein: 16 g Fat: 27 g