How often in the past year have you come across the word 'Quinoa', (pronounced “keenwah”)? Quinoa originated in the area surrounding Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia, is often called an “Ancient Grain” and a “Wholegrain”. But it isn't a grain, it's a gluten free super-seed, Pseudo-cereal. It has a nutty taste and a very different texture and is unlike any gluten free super food you have tasted. Quinoa has many benefits and nutrients and every health Guru is raving about this super food, but that being said, never do an excess of anything, keep everything to a limit. For those of you who have gluten intolerance or have Celiac's disease, this is a wonderful replacement and is technically grain free too.
I cook Quinoa atleast once a week and it's the ideal 'work lunchbox' option. It's not heavy on the tummy, so quite a wonderful lunch or dinner idea. Here's the basic recipe on how-to-cook Quinoa and below that, a simple starter recipe that you can easily try! Did you know Quinoa has a low glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar control? If you go to the supermarket, there are three varieties of this super-seed on sale, black, red and white.
1 cup uncooked white/black or red quinoa
2 cups water
sprinkle of salt (optional)
1 tsp cooking oil
Place the quinoa into a fine-meshed strainer (so you don’t lose the seeds) and rinse it under running water for at least a minute. Use your hands to rinse the seeds well. Shake the strainer gently to remove the excess water. Heat the oil in the saucepan and gently toast the Quinoa until it gets an aroma and you hear a slight crackling sound. Then add the water.
Place over high heat and bring to a boil, uncovered. Stir, then turn the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer from 15 to 20 minutes, until the water has all evaporated (check by scraping to the bottom of the saucepan with a spoon) and the quinoa looks light and fluffy. The germ will have separated from the seeds and look like curls. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit with the lid on for 5 more minutes to steam. Fluff with a fork and your quinoa is ready to serve or use in your recipe.
Some prefer to avoid the initial oil stir-fry of the Quinoa and just boil it in water. I love the aroma that is released when you do the stir-fry and enjoy hearing the seeds pop.
Easy Mushroom Quinoa
2 cups pre-cooked Quinoa (I have used the black variety here)
1 cup sliced button Mushrooms
2 garlic cloves chopped fine
1 onion sliced thin
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt/ rock salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Heat your pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to, add the garlic and let it the raw smell go, then add the Mushroom and onions and cook until just until translucent and tender. Add the soy sauce and pepper and cook another 30 seconds. Now add the Quinoa to this and toss well to combine. Check the salt and serve this hot.
Tip- If you plan to take it for your office lunch, prep this the night before. You can try this with Broccoli as well, the contrast in the textures are lovely.