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Keen-wha? Quinoa! All about this gluten free 'grain' | Jenna Verhoeven

I’m keen, you’re keen, we’re all keen for quinoa! Well, I may be telling a small fib. Maybe you’re not that keen on quinoa. Truth be told, whilst I do eat it, it’s used sparingly in my diet.

What even are you?

Though referred to as a ‘wholegrain food’, quinoa is a seed. Like buckwheat, quinoa is another gluten free pseudo-cereal, you can read more about pseudo-cereals here. Quinoa is slightly chewy and has a nutty taste to it. Most mainstream stores will carry white quinoa, but it comes in other colours such as red, pink, and black. You can also get it as a flour, and or in flake/rolled form, which are like rolled oats.

Is it really the bees knees?

Using the Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand NUTTAB, we can check out the values of 100g of dry, uncooked seed. Each 100g has just about 2 eggs worth of protein, which is like buckwheat. As for carbohydrate, it has about 61g of carb per 100g’ making it both a complex and starchy carbohydrate.

What do I do with it?

Given I currently live in the Blue Mountains, and it’s a chilly winter, I’m loving quinoa porridge for breakfast. I pop 1 cup of water in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Once it’s boiling, I add 1/3 cup of quinoa flakes and whisk around with a fork. One and a half minutes later, and it’s done. Winner! You can use this as a base and add yogurt, nut butters, stewed or fresh fruits – too easy!

Cooked quinoa can also be delicious in salads like tabouleh, or as a side instead of rice. When cooking this seed, just remember it TRIPLES in volume.  To start, rinse the seeds under cold running water, and then allow it to drain well. In a saucepan, have 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Over medium heat bring to the boil. Once it hits boiling, turn to low for a gentle simmer. Do not cover! It will take about 10-20 minutes for it to cook. This depends on how much quinoa you are cooking.  Once all the water has been absorbed, remove the saucepan from the heat, and pop a lid on it. This step helps the quinoa to finish popping open and get nice and fluffy! Done! Too easy!

Always in moderation and education

In 2013 the United Nations dubbed it the year of quinoa. I was in my final year of Naturopathy School and quinoa was everywhere. It was latest acai. And just like Acai, I was concerned about the Indigenous Cultures that used quinoa as a staple.

The First Nations Peoples of Bolivia and Peru had been living on quinoa as a dietary staple. I was, and still am, worried about how the saturation into the western world could affect the food availability for the cultures that survive on it as a daily staple. I am torn between thinking that by eating this gluten free seed I am supporting Agriculture and Farmers in other communities, but as worried I am stealing food from their very own tables. How can I move forward in this? Everything in moderation and education.

Be a kind human where possible.

Keen for a quinoa challenge?

If you smashed the buckwheat challenege last week, I encourage you to see if you can add a small amount of quinoa into your life. Variety really is the spice of life, and the key to unlocking more vitamins and nutrients in your diet.

Why don’t you try my super easy quinoa porridge for breakfast whilst the mornings are still a bit fresh? As always, I’d love to know how you do. Tag me in your Instagram food pics @jvnaturopathy! If you want to dive a lil deeper into understanding how your body uses your fuel for exercise, training, and getting everything done – reach out to me here for your one on one consult.


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