Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal that just keeps gaining in popularity. However, this South American plant is still little known, so here’s a quick overview. Quinoa is considered a pseudo-cereal because it comes from the same family as spinach and beets, unlike wheat, which belongs to the grass family. You can find white, red, and black quinoa, and a blend of all three adds colour and taste to salads. Why the sudden popularity? There are several explanations for this phenomenon. First of all, it’s gluten free, which makes it very interesting for those who have eliminated gluten from their diets. Nutrition wise, it’s made up of proteins called complete proteins, meaning that the proteins in quinoa come from all essential amino acids, something that is rare in the plant world. Furthermore, quinoa is a source of iron and fibre. But let’s not forget that the food industry likes featuring new flavours, and quinoa is no exception.
Before cooking, quinoa needs only be rinsed. Some quinoa grains have not been removed of their protective coating, saponin, which gives them a bitter taste. Rinsing allows you to remove this layer, and by doing so, eliminate any bitterness. You can prepare quinoa much like you would pasta, i.e., boil in a large quantity of water for 10 to 15 minutes or until it starts to sprout, and then drain. You can also cook in two parts water for one part quinoa. To release all the aromas, try dry toasting grains in a skillet before plunging in water. In addition to white, red and black grains, you can also find quinoa flour and flakes on the market, which can easily be used to replace oat flakes. Quinoa can also serve in a multitude of recipes. These delicious little grains are perfect in salads, or alongside veggies and legumes, and they can easily replace rice as a side. Here’s a surprizing fact: you can also prepare quinoa the same as you would oatmeal, covered with warm milk and flavoured with spices such as vanilla or cinnamon. Here are some recipe ideas to inspire you: quinoa and lentil salad, and energy bars made from quinoa flakes.