Quinoa – all you need to know!

Quinoa! Quinoa! Quinoa!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wá) is a grain-like seed.

Facts about Quinoa

Quinoa – South American origin, now also certified organically grown in Tasmania! It was already cultivated over 5000 years ago in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. The Quinoa grain comes closer to meeting the genuine protein requirements of the human body than either cow’s milk or soybeans. This nutrient-rich seed is a wonderful source of complete protein, providing all of the essential amino acids. It is also a good source of dietary fiber.

Naturally gluten free and a great addition to any diet, ideal for those following a gluten free, vegan or vegetarian diet looking to increase quality protein intake and variety.

If you can source the fresh leaves apparently they can be eaten, but do have a high oxalic acid content.

Don’t throw the washing water away, you can use this soapy water for washing your dishes.

Quinoa is not a true cereal grain it can be eaten by people who suffer from cereal grain allergies. Sometimes Quinoa is referred to as “pseudo-cereal” because it is a broad leaf non-legume that is grown for grains, unlike the true grains and corn which are grasses.

There are currently White Quinoa, Red Quinoa and Black Quinoa seed varieties of the seed available in Australia. The phytonutrient Anthocyanidin, that gives Red Quinoa the colour, increases Vitamin C levels in cells, decreases leakiness and breakage of small blood vessels’ according to Paul Pitchford (author of Healing with Whole Foods).

  • The seeds are completely edible, but the saponin coating needs to be washed off before use.

  • The outer germ around each grain twists outward forming a little white, spiral tail, which is attached to the kernel.

  • The seed is also edible once cooked or processed into flour or flakes, puffed for breakfast cereal or sprouted.

  • Red and Black Quinoa are slightly more crunchy in texture and nutty in flavour than white quinoa when cooked

Cooking with Quinoa

Quinoa in its natural state has a coating that is bitter tasting. That’s why Quinoa needs to be washed before consumption. Place the desired quantity in a fine sieve and rinse with running water, swirling the quinoa with your hand until, wash until the water runs clear. Never soak Quinoa before washing. The bitterness will be absorbed by the seed and you will never get the bitterness out.

The first 2 washes are very important – the first wash will be dark and frothy; the second wash is not as dark as the first. The water will get clearer with every wash.

With cooking don’t put too much water on top, the washing makes the product already wet. Not more than 12mm or ½ inch of water on top, too much water makes it soggy.

Cook for 10-12 min check and let it dry out a bit in its own heat. Don’t cook it for too long or cook on to high or you’ll overcook the Quinoa

. Stir a few times when cooking.

Quinoa has a light fluffy texture when cooked, and has a mild nutty flavour. It can be cooked like rice but in half the time.

Serving Suggestions

  • Wholegrain or flakes as Porridge or as side dish simply cooked in water

  • Cooked, cold or sprouted add to salads like tabouli

  • Use flour in baking, or mix in to boost nutrient level.

  • Add to main meals, such as dal, soups, stews or slices.

There are also several other ways to prepare Quinoa: e.g. fried, curried, served as a side dish or a meat substitute and added to yoghurt of choice, create a delicious protein rich pudding or

dessert. Flakes make a very quick porridge, add to muesli, protein boost to smoothies, use flakes to coat fritters like crumbs, add into savoury or sweet baking or cooking to to boost nutrient contents such as protein and fibre.

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