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Health Food of the month - Quinoa

June 2016

However you pronounce it, Quinoa is the new hit food of 2016!

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Aubergines

Crab

Chocolate


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

If you haven’t heard of quinoa you will do soon…it is the new hit food of 2016!

And not surprising really, it seems to tick a great number of boxes thanks to high levels of protein, fibre, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and lots of other good things.

The plant is native to South America, mainly Bolivia, and is a relative of Swiss chard, spinach and beets. It was the staple food of the Incas for thousands of years. It thrives best in sandy well-drained soils and it is now grown across the world including Europe and here in the UK. It is usually sold as a grain.

First it might be best to get to grips with the pronounciation…sometimes it is pronounced kinwa but generally keen..wa or increasingly said in the very English way…kwin-o-a.

Quinoa is often referred to as a grain but to be technically correct, it is a seed.

The seed is described as the complete protein and what this means is that it contains all nine essential amino acids, including the fairly elusive lysine and isoleucine acids which is not in many other grains.
The protein levels are high too, around twice the levels of rice or barley…just one cup of quinoa contains around 8g of protein. The same cupful also contains around 5g of fibre, and very useful levels of iron, magnesium folate and omega 3 fatty acids – so essential in keeping your heart healthy. Quinoa also has a higher content of monounsaturated fat compared with other common cereal grasses plus it is a good source of calcium, manganese, several B vitamins and vitamin E. It is also a slowly digested carbohydrate, which makes it a good low-GI option if you are following that type of diet.

Just as an easy indication, a 100g of quinoa will provide 368 calories, 14g protein, 6g fat, 64 carbohydrates and 7g fibre.

Quinoa has a mild nutty flavour with a light crunch or cooked to become fluffy and creamy, and really is an excellent substitute for pasta, rice or couscous. It is also milled into gluten-free flour for use in baking or as the base for gluten-free pastas.

If you are buying quinoa, check no moisture has go into the packets as this can affect the freshness of the grain, and it also needs to be stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dry place…then it can last for several months providing a useful staple in your larder.

Quinoa is usually cooked by boiling and one word of warning…there is a compound that coats the quinoa seeds called saponin that can give quinoa a slightly bitter, soapy taste and also create a foam during cooking. Most people remove saponins before cooking by rinsing them well in a sieve under running cold water. Once rinsed, quinoa can be cooked like rice and it will expand to several times its original size during cooking.

You can now buy boxed quinoa which is
pre-rinsed, but it will never hurt to give the seeds an extra quick rinse before cooking. That said, some people say they don’t rinse quinoa before cooking because they really like the more nuttier flavour that comes from un-rinsed quinoa.

There is quite a bit of information on the web about quinoa and there is a Shropshire company that has started to grow its own quinoa…its website has lots of information

 


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