It's the protein-packed superfood that has become popular with healthy food fanatics right across the world - but just where does quinoa come from? Find out here!
Nutritious, tasty and easy to cook, quinoa is a popular alternative to rice and classed as a superfood or supergrain.
Many people are curious as to the origins of quinoa - but whilst it may be new in some parts of the world, it is very well known in others.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually a seed of a plant native to Peru but that also grows in Bolivia and Chile. Whilst only recently popular within mainstream media, quinoa has actually been enjoyed for the native people of the places in which it grows for hundreds of years.
Originally, quinoa was grown in the Andes Mountains, but due to its ever increasing demand, it is now grown in over 70 countries including China, North America, France, India, Africa and the Middle East.
Why quinoa is a healthy choice
So why the fuss over this little seed? Bursting with protein, fiber, iron, copper, thiamin and vitamin B6, quinoa offers anti-inflammatory benefits as well the promotion of healthy gut microbes.
What's more, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids in approximate equal measure. Quinoa is also naturally gluten free and can aid in lowering cholesterol levels.
What does quinoa taste like?
Health benefits aside, quinoa makes a tasty addition to any meal!
When cooked, it has a nutty flavor but is light and fluffy. It lends itself well to many other flavors so you can season it up as much or as little as you like.
It is always a good idea to rinse quinoa before cooking, even when boxed, as it can harbor some remnants of a bitter saponin coating. Rinsing your quinoa as well as toasting it prior to cooking it helps bring out its nutty flavor.
Try cooking your quinoa in broth as opposed to water to help enhance its flavor. Whether you are using white, red or black quinoa, the cooking instructions are the same. White quinoa is the mildest of the three, whereas the other two have a more noticeable nuttiness. Try using a tricolor blend for salads!
How to cook quinoa
Cooking quinoa is very simple! To make enough to serve two, use 1 cup of uncooked quinoa. Rinse it thoroughly in cold water, stirring with your hands to remove the coating, then strain through a sieve or strainer.
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan and add the quinoa, stirring constantly to help remove any water and to toast it. You will begin to smell once the quinoa is toasting - it should take just a couple of minutes.
Pour in 1 3/4 cups water or veggie/chicken broth , bring to the boil, then turn heat to the lowest setting. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat but do not remove the lid for another 5 minutes.
Finally, fluff the quinoa with a fork before serving. Should there be any liquid left in your pan, turn the heat back onto its lowest setting, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.