All About Quinoa!

All About Quinoa!

The Quinoa Revolution: A Nutrient Powerhouse for Your Plate

In the world of nutrition, there are certain foods that stand out for their exceptional health benefits, and quinoa,  (pronounced KEEN-wah)  is undoubtedly one of them. This ancient grain, native to the Andean region of South America, has been revered for centuries for its remarkable nutritional profile and culinary versatility.  

But does it taste good?  As chefs, our goal is to always make sure even the healthiest of foods taste amazing.   Quinoa has a mild, nutty flavour that pairs well with a variety of ingredients and seasonings. Its taste is often described as slightly earthy or grassy, with a hint of sweetness. The versatility of quinoa allows it to absorb the flavours of other ingredients in a dish, making it a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savoury recipes.

Read on to discover all of the benefits of quinoa, why it deserves a place of honour on your plate and in your dishes, and start cooking quinoa quickly and easily to have on hand in your kitchen,   

Is Quinoa Nutritious? 

This tiny grain is packed with a plethora of nutrients that can nourish your body and support overall well-being.  

  1. Quinoa is a Complete Protein Source: We remember learning about ‘complete proteins’ in chef school.   To contain all nine essential amino nutrients that meat has, we learned that vegetarian foods must be paired together (i.e. whole wheat bread & peanut butter, rice & beans).  But then quinoa came along!  It stands out as a rare plant-based source of complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. This makes it an excellent option for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to increase their protein intake.
  2. Quinoa is Abundant in Fibre: Fibre is essential for digestive health, and quinoa delivers a hearty dose of it. A single serving provides a significant portion of your daily fibre needs, promoting satiety, regulating blood sugar levels, and supporting a healthy gut microbiome.  Our Basic Quinoa Pilaf recipe is the perfect side dish to just about anything, and can up your fibre intake in no time, making you feel & perform better!  
  3. Quinoa is Rich in Essential Nutrients: Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse, boasting an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. It's particularly high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate, all of which play vital roles in various bodily functions, from bone health to energy metabolism. Magnesium alone can help prevent osteoporosis, help to regulate muscle function and prevent cramping and stiffness,  plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels, sSupports mood and mental health and has anti-inflammatory effects which may help reduce inflammation throughout the body. 
  4. Gluten-Free Goodness: For those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, quinoa is a welcome addition to the diet. Naturally gluten-free, it offers a safe alternative to wheat-based grains, allowing individuals with gluten sensitivities to enjoy its benefits without worry.  

Quinoa is Super Versatile! From Breakfast to Dinner: 

One of the most enticing aspects of quinoa is its incredible versatility in the kitchen. Whether you're whipping up a hearty breakfast, a vibrant salad, or a comforting dinner, quinoa can elevate any dish with its nutty flavour and satisfying texture. 

  1. Breakfast: Start your day on the right foot with a nourishing bowl of quinoa porridge. Cooked with almond milk and topped with fresh fruit, nuts, and a drizzle of local maple syrup or honey, it's a wholesome breakfast option that will keep you fueled for hours.  We love it mixed in with our Crispy Granola, full of seeds, nuts, coconut and just a hint of sea salt to bring out all of the flavours.   
  2. Salads: At the top of our list of Why to Cook Quinoa, it has to be for salads!    Quinoa serves as the perfect base for hearty salads as it adds so much in the way of flavour, texture, bulk and colour and is extremely versatile.   Our Number One go-to recipe is our fan favourite Greek Quinoa Salad! It combines cooked quinoa with everyone’s favourite Greek vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, tomatoes….we also love to add the tender leaves and hearts of celery), along with baby spinach, feta cheese and our Red Wine Vinaigrette. We could eat this salad almost everyday!   
  3. Protein-Packed Main Courses: From Stuffed Peppers to quinoa stir-fries, the possibilities are endless when it comes to incorporating quinoa into savoury suppers. Try our Fried Rice recipe with quinoa, or cook and toast quinoa to make for an excellent savoury crust on baked salmon.   Quinoa is a blank slate when it comes to adding flavour:  try cooked quinoa folded into caramelized onions & mushrooms and served with grilled steak!   Its versatility allows it to seamlessly complement a wide range of flavours and ingredients, making it a staple in plant-based and omnivorous diets alike.

Let’s Get Cooking!  Tips for Cooking Quinoa:  

Cooking quinoa is simple and straightforward, but there are a few tips to ensure optimal results:

  1. Rinse Before Cooking: Quinoa naturally contains a bitter compound called saponin, which can impart an unpleasant taste if not rinsed off. Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a fine-mesh sieve before cooking to remove any saponin residue.
  2. Proper Ratio: To cook quinoa, use a ratio of 2 parts liquid (water or broth) to 1 part quinoa. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the quinoa, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  3. Fluff with a Fork: Once cooked, fluff the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains and achieve a light, fluffy texture.

Alternatively, try cooking quinoa using ‘the pasta method’:  Bring a large pot of water up to the boil.  Add enough salt so that the water tastes pleasantly salty.   Add in 1 cup of rinsed quinoa.  Bring back up to the boil (watch carefully so that it does not boil over!) and then reduce the heat to medium or medium-high to maintain a high simmer.   Continue to cook for 12-14 minutes, then drain well through a fine mesh strainer.   Spread out onto a baking sheet to cool,  Now your quinoa is ready to add to your next recipe!   


Why we have embraced, and continue to embrace the Quinoa Craze!


If after reading this you will likely want a giant bowl of quinoa salad in your fridge at all times!   Cooked quinoa keeps very well:  place your cooked and cooled quinoa in a sealed container and it will keep for 5 days in your fridge, ready to add to your next salad or breakfast bowl,  We’ve even sprinkled cooked quinoa into a fruit smoothie to give it bulk and nutrition!  


Quinoa is more than just a trendy health food—it's a nutritional powerhouse that deserves a permanent spot in your culinary repertoire. So, join the quinoa revolution and savour the goodness of this ancient grain for a healthier, happier you!

 Make Quinoa and all the elements of an amazing Salad Bar with our On-Demand Cooking Class!  Cook along with us with our SALAD PREP CLASS!