Focus on Food – Quinoa

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wa, was the staple food of the Incas. It is gluten-free, has the highest protein content of any grain and contains many nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc and B vitamins.

The seed coating contains saponins which can irritate the intestines, so quinoa must be soaked and washed under running water thoroughly to remove these. Quinoa is available from most health food shops.

Preparation of quinoa:

1 cup quinoa + 1 1/2 cups cold water

  • Soak overnight then rinse under running water OR soak for 15 minutes then rinse under running water for 5 minutes. The first option is more effective and better for the environment as it uses less water.
  • Drain quinoa well in a fine sieve.
  • Place quinoa in a pot and add the water.
  • Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer.
  • Cook for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to sit five minutes with lid on.
  • Fluff gently with a fork and serve.

Quinoa is delicious on it’s own or served with anything you would normally use rice for.

You can tell when quinoa is cooked as the edge of the seed separates as a white spiral and the seed turns clear.

Try adding the rinsed grain to soups and casseroles or use it as a porridge.