Quinoa is one SUPER delicious SUPERFOOD that I’m SUPER excited to share with you today! Too many superlatives right? I know! But I have a superb reason for it. (^_^) This is one awesome foodstuff you want to eat and I’m going to tell you why. I’m also going to share with you a simple recipe to prepare quinoa in 25 minutes (shorter if you’re cooking just for yourself). Ready? Get set? Go!
Quick fun facts
Pronounced as “keen-wah” not “kwee-noah”, quinoa is commonly referred to as a grain but it is not; it is actually a seed from a vegetable and is in the same food family that contains spinach, Swiss chard and beets. It also doesn’t belong to the same plant family as wheat, oats, barley, or rye either. In fact, it is gluten-free and yet chock full of vitamins. You can find out about the nutritional benefits of quinoa by looking it up at whfoods.com but here, I’ll just list some I consider significant for our skin.
Some health and beauty benefits
Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate with low glycemic index and has a relatively safe calorie level (172 calories per 1/4 cup). It is also high in protein with an adequate source of all essential amino acids. Apart from the various nutrients, quinoa also provides a variety of antioxidant phytonutrients and comes with anti-inflammatory properties. The saponins found in quinoa are great for skin healing. In addition, it contains lysine, a key building block in the synthesis of elastin and collagen. The high levels of magnesium also promote skin elasticity and regenerate skin cells, while vitamin B2 (riboflavin) builds up connective tissues and is integral to cell reparation.
Not to be eaten daily
Though I mentioned that the saponins found in quinoa are great for our skin, it is actually soapy and can be challenging to the immune system and stomach. Most commercially prepared quinoa are pre-washed but it is a good idea to rinse them thoroughly again to remove any of the powdery saponins that may remain on the seeds. Quinoa also contain oxalates and hence, is on the caution list for an oxalate-restricted diet. Whilst a superfood, quinoa should not be eaten daily but rather, consumed just once or twice a week.
Apparently, scores of varieties of quinoa exist but the three most widely cultivated and available ones are the light yellow, red, and black ones. I’ve only tried the red variety so far so am not sure if there are any significant difference in terms of the taste of the other varieties.
Texture and flavor
Quinoa is cooked like rice and has a fluffy texture with a slightly nutty flavour. What’s interesting is that when the quinoa is cooked, you will notice that the grains quadruple in size and become almost translucent. The white germ also partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail. What I love about quinoa is that it is easy to cook and does not stick to the pot.
While some recommend soaking quinoa, I don’t because it’s not necessary. Anyway, check the instructions on the packaging just to be sure. But what I do is to rinse the quinoa thoroughly by running cold water over it and rubbing them with my fingers until the entire white residue has been washed away. Then I add two cups of water to one cup of quinoa to boil, simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed.
Simple recipe which serves two
Cook the quinoa (15 mins)
- Rinse one cup of quinoa and drain.
- Add 2 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil.
- Simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and let cool.
Prepare ingredients (10 mins—while cooking quinoa)
- Chop 3 cloves of garlic.
- Cut 8 cherry tomatoes.
- Cut 2 pieces of ham.
- Cut 4 small swiss brown mushrooms.
- Cut a small amount of capsicum.
Frying ingredients (15 minutes)
Beat the egg and make an egg omelette. Cut up the egg omelette into small strips and set them aside. Stir fry all the other ingredients, beginning with the garlic and the ham, then add the mushrooms, capsicum and finally the tomatoes. Sprinkle Tuscan seasoning over the ingredients. Stir in the cooked quinoa, sprinkle a bit more Tuscan seasoning and the salad quinoa is ready to be served.
Price and availability
You can find a few brands and varieties of quinoa at iHerb. I got the red quinoa from Eden Organic because it was well rated. All I will say is that it taste great. I also bought the yellow ones from Origins Healthfood available at NTUC supermarket although I have yet to cook it. The 500g packet cost me S$7.50 whereas the 454g Eden Organic red quinoa cost me more at US$9.07.
So have you tried eating quinoa? How do you like it? Do you have a quinoa recipe to share? If so, leave your recommendation in the comment box!
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