Quinoa – the Superfood Super Grain

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a grain-like seed that is becoming more and more popular in recent times – and for good reasons!  It is a perfect grain for vegetarians, as it is high in protein and essential amino acids (higher in protein than any other grain in fact!), as well as fibre, iron and calcium. Even better it is gluten free – making it perfect for people with coeliac disease or those following a low FODMAPs diet.

Quinoa is a tiny grain that cooks up like rice and has a mild, nutty flavour and a light, fluffy texture similar to couscous.  It can be used in a variety of dishes, from breakfasts to dinners to desserts. Make it into a porridge with nuts and berries, treat it as an alternative to rice for dinner, or use quinoa flour in your baking.  Quinoa can be found in the health food aisle of your supermarket as well as health food shops.

Here are a couple of recipes to get the ideas flowing:

Quinoa Porridge
2 cups quinoa flakes
4 cups of water (or milk)
Pinch of salt (if desired)
1/2 cup sultanas
1 grated granny smith apple
Ground cinnamon – just a little
Maple Syrup – just a splash

Add 2 cups of Quinoa flakes to 4 cups of rapidly boiling water (can use milk or apple juice instead).
Add a pinch of salt (if desired) reduce heat and cook for 5-10 minutes.
Towards the end add 1/2 cup sultanas, 1 grated granny smith apple and a dash of cinnamon.
Drizzle with maple syrup and a little milk, add some diced nuts or slivered almonds and fresh berries and enjoy! Serves 4.

Quinoa and Zucchini Salad with Marinated Chicken

1 cup (200g) white quinoa
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
4 chicken breasts
1 zucchini, sliced lengthways into thin ribbons (a mandoline is ideal)
250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
100g feta, crumbled

  1. Place quinoa and 600ml water in a pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes or until quinoa is tender and the water is almost absorbed. Drain well and allow to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, place lemon zest, 2 tbs oil and half the chilli in a bowl. Add chicken, season and toss to coat. Place chicken in a pan over medium heat and cook, skin-side down, for 4-6 minutes until skin is golden and crisp. Turn, and cook for a further 6-8 minutes until cooked through. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice with remaining chilli and 2 tbs oil. Season and set dressing aside. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, tomatoes, feta and cooked quinoa. Pour over lemon dressing and toss to combine.
  4. Divide quinoa salad among plates. Slice the chicken breasts, then arrange on top of the quinoa salad and serve.

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