I’m sure most of you have heard of Quinoa (pronounced as KEEN-wa) and if you haven’t well by George where have you been?.
It’s probably the easiest food to cook with as well, unlike wheat based grains, this one is also gluten-free (another bonus for those will bowel sensitivities and also for vegetarians/vegans) and highly prized for its high protein content. Located and grown in South America for thousands of years (Bolivia, Chile and Peru) quinoa formed the primary diet of the Incas and their descendants, which gave them strength and vitality and provided them with plenty of nutrition for good health.
You are certainly missing out on this amazing ancient wholegrain if you haven’t tried it yet! It was in fact in 2013 declared “The International Year of the Quinoa,” and has received notable recognition for its extensive health benefits and very high-nutritive values. It is basically termed as a ‘superfood’ from being a very good source of protein (as it contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein source),high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and vitamins such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, a high omega-3 content, good levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fiber. Additionally it has large amounts of flavonoids called Quercetin and Kaempferol, which are powerful plant antioxidants beneficial to protect against oxidative stress (i.e free radical damage).
There are many varieties of quinoa, but the popular commercially made ones have a white, red and black colour. Quinoa can be bought from your health food store and you can find a blended organic version with all three types. However the white variety is found in some local shops and high end supermarkets as its becoming more popular amongst people on gluten-free diets and those of us health conscious people.
I like all varieties but I tend to use the white and red versions which I buy from my local health food store, literally 5 mins walk for me so its perfect! Waitrose stocks it as well and they even have ready made packets mixed with wholegrain rice (other varieties are also available) that can be warmed up in the microwave for 2 minutes. Although slightly more pricey than from supermarkets, the product I buy is excellent quality (BioFair Organic fair trade Quinoa), 1kg worth of the stuff, and very sustainable too as I care about how the product is made, and finally you can still get it online for cheaper such as from Amazon.
Here is the low-down of some of the health benefits of Quinoa (I don’t want to get too technical and scientific so I’ll keep it simple):
-Improving heart health by reducing cholesterol.
-Boosting your iron levels making you energized and less fatigued during the day.
-Reduces bloating of the stomach (gluten-free)
-Good low-GI option keeping you fuller for longer (weight loss assistance)
-Excellent protein source (complete protein source)
-High in fibre (n.b dont forget to drink plenty of water with high fibre foods to help with digestion).
-A versatile pseudograin that has endless possibilities for delicious nutritious recipes.
Lunch/Dinner Recipe: Quinoa vegetable delight Recipe:-serving for 4-5 people. It can also go with a green salad, broccoli and with lean grilled organic chicken fillets to complement the quinoa dish, but for lunch I would eat it alone, its quite filling and its a great vegetarian gluten-free option.
What you will need:
2 cloves of garlic,
1-2 large red or white onions (I prefer red as it’s sweeter).
2 courgettes (cut into small pieces)
Half of a butternut squash (cut into small pieces)
3 carrots (cut into small pieces)
1 tin of organic chickpeas.
1 cup of quinoa
Half a cup of millet (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups of water
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil and/or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ a pinch of sea salt (also you can use Celtic version or Himalayan salt as it has less sodium) and pepper.
1 Pomegranate (optional to place at the end)
Teaspoon of flaxseeds (optional)
1. Add 2 cups water and salt to pan; bring to a boil then add the quinoa.
2. Cover the pan, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
3. Remove from heat; set aside, and let it cool slightly, now you can move onto the next part.
4. In a large frying pan (i.e skillet) add a table spoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of coconut oil and heat for 30 seconds on high then add the chopped onions. 5. Let the onions fry for 3-4 minutes until slightly browned and then add the courgettes and crushed garlic while stirring gently into the mixture. 6. Once 3 minutes has passed add the remaining vegetables to the mixture (butternut squash, chickpeas). 7. Set the heat on medium and after vegetables have been cooking for 3 mins add 2 cups of quinoa and the millet while stirring it with the vegetables together for about 3 more minutes.
8. The final part is very simple, you just need to mix it a little more (switch heat off), add your lemon juice, pomegranates and freshly cut parsley and voila you are good to go.