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Quinoa – A high protein carbohydrate food

Why not try something different?…   Quinoa

As adults, we are always encouraging children to try new things, without realising that we may be totally inhibited by our own repetitive food preferences and eating habits!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is similar to rice, as it has a light fluffy texture and a mild nutty flavour.

Whilst it is most commonly used as a grain, quinoa is actually a tiny seed which was once considered ‘the gold of the Incas’, originating from South America.

Once forgotten, it is coming back into vogue on a global scale. Quinoa is not only quick and easy to prepare, but also a winner in terms of nutritional content.

Nutrition Benefits

Quinoa contains an impressive 16% of protein, which is more than rice (7.5%) or wheat (14%). Quinoa is one of the few plant-based foods which is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 8 of the essential amino acids. For this particular reason, it is a great choice for vegetarians or those following muscle building diets.

It also has a low glycaemic index because it contains double the fibre of most other grains, thus releasing glucose slowly into the bloodstream and keeping hunger at bay for longer.

Quinoa is naturally gluten and wheat free.  It is a good source of iron which is needed to carry oxygen around the body and also provides B vitamins which are involved in metabolic reactions within the body.

Tips for Using Quinoa

Quinoa can be used in a variety of ways and is a great substitute for many foods including pasta, rice, oats and cous cous.  The only thing to remember is, you need to make sure you wash it before you cook it. Without following this step, you may find it to be somewhat bitter. Simply place the dry quinoa in a strainer and rinse until the water is clear.

Quinoa can be easily cooked by bringing 2 cups of water to the boil in a saucepan and adding one cup of the grain.  Cover with a lid and reducing the heat, simmering for approx 15 minutes.

Quinoa had a mild flavour, which makes it suitable for use in both sweet and savoury dishes, including pilafs, puddings, salads, curries and soups.  For a nutritious protein-packed breakfast, try cooking up some quinoa then add berries, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.

Quinoa is becoming readily available on supermarket shelves in addition to health food shops, so keep your eyes peeled for it next time you go shopping!

Written by Ellen Roche Dietitian
Nutri Vive   Nutrition Clinic

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