Welcome to the first of a series profiling some of my favourite ingredients. Whilst I will be calling them Superfoods, I know this can be a highly debatable term; essentially I will be talking about ingredients that I regularly cook with which have unique health benefits.
Superfoods are typically foods that contain antioxidants and/or high nutritional content that protect the body from toxins, prevent or reduce inflammation, prevent heart disease and cancer, promote digestive health and help regulate metabolism and burn body fat. Some of these foods you may not know much about or even heard of. Or maybe you have heard about them, but are not sure how to cook with them. In my series, I will try and provide as much relevant and useful information as possible. I would love to also hear from you if you have any questions. So for my first food - I bring you Quinoa
What is Quinoa?
You may have thought that Quinoa (which is pronounced Keen-wah) is a grain like wheat, oats and barley, as it is typically consumed the same way. However, It is actually a ancient South American seed which is harvested from a species of a plant called Goosefoot and is closely related to spinach and beetroot. Quinoa comes in red, white and black varieties (you can also buy quinoa flakes and quinoa flour).
What are the nutritional and health benefits of Quinoa?
Quinoa is one of the most nutritious foods going around - it is one of the few complete sources of protein, with all eight essential amino acids covered (perfect for Vegans and Vegetarians). It also contains fibre (which is important for gastrointestinal health), iron (which is needed for carrying oxygen around the body), magnesium (required for cell function and growth), calcium and manganese (important for bone and nerve health), folate (a component of DNA) and vitamin E (which is a powerful antioxidant). Quinoa is perfect for Celiacs and for those who suffer from a gluten intolerance as it does not contain any gluten.
How do you eat Quinoa?
I mainly cook white quinoa as I find that it cooks quicker than the black and red varieties. You cook it the same way as you would rice, so for one cup quinoa, you will need 2 cups water. Firstly, you need to make sure that you rinse the quinoa really well to remove any grit and the bitter, soap-like coating (called saponin). Then you add the rinsed quinoa and water to a saucepan, bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. I then like to to take it off the heat and cover with a tea towel and let it rest for approximately 5 minutes. This will help to absorb any moisture and increase the fluffiness of the quinoa.
Where to buy it.
You can buy Quinoa from most major supermarkets; at the time of writing, Coles was charging around $18/kg (AUD), which makes it a good deal more expensive than rice! You can find better deals; I recently found it at Costco for $13/kg.
Quinoa recipes on Becomingness.
Ness is a qualified nutritionist, a life & wellness coach in-training, and a mother of two extremely energetic toddlers. She has created Becomingness, a health and wellness website, to help women achieve their health and wellness goals by providing accurate, accessible and attractive products and services that promote motivation, empowerment, self-belief and happiness. Come say hello and follow Ness on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.