Quinoa (Keen-wah)

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First and foremost lets get this straight, quinoa is pronounced Keen-wah as stated above, not Kwin-OH-ah like I called it for months!haha My bad!

What is this product we keep hearing people rave about all over the internet?!

Well, it isn’t exactly a grain, because it’s the seed of a plant that’s actually related to spinach-not wheat. True story! So it’s not actually a wholegrain, we refer to it as a pseudo-cereal (cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient profile).

It’s gluten-free (majority of brands are, make sure to check label) therefore it’s suitable for coeliac sufferers or those who have a gluten sensitivity.

Maybe you’re just fed up of pasta, potatoes and rice being the base of your dinner because this is all you’ve ever had, well to move away from this try quinoa as a healthy, filling portion of your meal.

Types of quinoa.

Quinoa comes in a variety of colours, with the most readily available being red, black and white.The white is the most fluffy of them, and isn’t as ‘crunchy’ as the other 2, whilst the black and red don’t stick together as much either. 

The tastes and the nutritional values are similar in them all.

Nutritional Value.

Whilst having a great carb content (approx 109g per 1 cup of dry quinoa), quinoa also has a very impressive protein content.

Not just the amount of protein present per cup (dry) (24g approx), but the actual type of protein that it contains. In human nutrition there are types of *amino acids (essential and non-essential) for the body.

Basically essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be got through food, whilst non-essential amino acids can be made by the body, even if we get them through food.

Back to the point.

Quinoa contains ALL 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce by itself. It’s rare that plant-foods contain this perfect balance of essential amino acids although it’s common in meat sources. Fibre and iron are also present in quinoa.

How to cook quinoa?

Some say rinse quinoa first as it has a natural protective coating called saponin, which can give a bitter taste – BUT most brands will already be rinsed so no need to worry about this.

Much like cooking rice, quinoa is combined with a 1:2 ratio quinoa to water and brought to the boil (add a stock cube to add a bit of flavour to your dish if desired), once boiling, reduce to a simmer with a lid on and cook for 15-20 mins until liquid has been absorbed, it will turn slightly translucent when cooked and a ‘white string’ will show on the outside.

If you are thinking quantity wise, then 1 cup of uncooked quinoa will serve 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

It can be added to salads, soups, as a substitute for rice or pasta dishes or used in baking when using the quinoa flour.

As you can see from the picture I had quinoa with stuffed chicken and some greens in my lunchbox for work. A seriously simple, satisfying, and healthy meal filled with protein and carbs. What’s not to love 🙂 

*Amino acids

-Organic compounds that form proteins when combined.

-When protein is digested or broken down, it is the amino acids that are left. The amino acids then kick start the production of more protein to help the body to grow, break down food, repair body tissue and helps with other functions within the body.

-The body can use amino acids as a source of energy.

-Classified as non-essential and essential as stated earlier, we must gain the essential amino acids from our foods we eat, hence where quinoa comes in as a perfect source – containing Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.

Non-essential amino acids made by the body include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.

Alana xo

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