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If you haven't tried it before, Quinoa is a highly nutritious protein rich seed which is also high in fibre. It is a simple food to prepare and can be eaten either plain or seasoned depending on the meal. All that is required is for the seed to be placed in to a pan and boiled in water for around 15 minutes before it is ready to eat.
Quinoa is a useful option to add in to salads or pilafs and is a vegetarians delight! That being said, I enjoy eating it with cajun spiced diced chicken breast and vegetables for a truly tasty treat!
Quinoa is mainly available in two varieties - Red Quinoa, which is generally only available from specialist health shops (Holland & Barrett etc) or plain Quinoa more widely available in most major supermarket chains (Asda, Sainsburys etc). Both tend to retail between £1.50-£3.00 so make sure you shop around!
Men's Health magazine recently rated Quinoa as one of the staple ingredients of the ultimate healthy meal comprising of - Quinoa, Chicken Breast and Avocado, so nip out and get some today!
Quinoa pronounced "keenwa" is one of my favourite healthy foods, and one I make time and time again. Being vegetarian it has one main attribute, which is that it contains all the 8 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. It has more protein than any other grain you can buy. In fact, though often thought of as a grain, it is actually a seed. This is due to the seed being necessary for the long term survival of the plant as it grows at high altitudes, and has to have everything it needs within this nutritious powerhouse to survive. It also has the advantage of being gluten free.
Loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc this super food is something many people have never tried. It is not something to be afraid of, and certainly any students going to university, or just starting to cook for themselves need to be aware of this inexpensive protein source.
Grown in the High Andes of South America there is something really exciting about this crop which looks absolutely stunning when photographed. A staple crop enjoyed by the Inca civilisation you are certainly partaking in a piece of history when you buy this exciting food. If you look on the internet there are many stunning images of red fields of Quinoa which look absolutely breathtaking. Growing to 4 to 6 feet tall these impressive plants are actually relatives of Spinach and Chard.
You can buy Quinoa from any good health food stores, or large supermarkets and my preferred make is Granovita, and I buy the organic, fair-trade version which is sold in a dark red packet. Holland and Barrett stock this and it will cost £3.14 for a 500g box.
I know it seems expensive but it will serve 8 good portions.Dooyoo have supplied photos of the other Granovita Quinoa range which are also delicious. These are the Organic Quinoa, and the Organic Red Quinoa, both of these are lovely and a bit cheaper, but the fair-trade version I am reviewing has the added benefit of being produced with ethical considerations at the heart of production, as well as the organic benefits the other two have.
This is made in Bolivia, which is a poor country, and buying this I feel goes some way towards helping this country to gain revenue from a crop which is valued world wide. There has been substantial investment and financial support for the growers of this food, enabling them to produce on a scale which is suitable for export, whilst providing them with improved living conditions, and protection for the environment where this is produced.
When you open the packet it looks very similar to millet. I love this too but many see it as budgie food! When cooked the germ breaks out and it forms like a tiny spiral and then you know it is ready!
You don't need to fear that cooking this will be a challenge, it isn't. All you do is to allow about 60g per person, rinse it well, and then cover with about twice the volume with salted water. You must rinse it well because the seeds have a toxic coating called Saponin, which must be removed before eating by this process in case any residues remain. Then you just cook over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes until the germ separates. What I do then is to cover and leave for a few minutes so that all the remaining water is absorbed by the Quinoa. It will fluff up by about 4 times so quite a generous amount, and then you have a food ready to either serve hot, or to allow to cool to use in salads and cold dishes.
You can also dry fry it for a few seconds before cooking which does release more flavour, but of course adds to the process. It can also be sprouted if you have a seed sprouter.
It tastes lovely, like a nutty rice, but lighter and more substantial. I find it helps to curb hunger for longer due to the high protein content, and it is certainly very easy to digest. I like it cold with pine nuts and lemon juice added, and maybe some spices like coriander or cumin. It actually tastes lovely with citrus flavours, even hot a sprinkle of lime juice adds a lot. You can really use it anywhere where you maybe used rice or other grains before, and it is certainly a lot easier to cook than rice to get perfect results every time.
It is a quick dish to make at the end of a busy day and something to keep in the cupboard for emergency dinners!
Some people may think the price is a little high, and certainly you can opt for less expensive versions than this which is organic and fair-trade, but as it is a protein rich food you can certainly eat less other protein foods at the same meal to cut the cost.
Granovita have been supplying health foods in the UK since 1991 and are an ethical company who operate their business to the highest ethical standards.
Bolivia itself is a country which struggles to survive. It is landlocked and this product is a positive outcome for a country with a chequered political history.
I think this product represents good value for money and it provides healthy meals for all the family. Certainly I would make this for children, and for suppers on mid week evenings it is perfect. There are lots of recipes on line to choose from if you want to be adventurous, but I find just experimenting with different flavours often leads to an exciting new dish.The other day for example I added currants and dried apricots to hot Quinoa and it was delicious.
You have to admire this crop, it loves altitudes of over 10,000 feet, endures drought and sub freezing temperatures, and prefers sandy, alkaline soils which would finish off most other food crops. I think it's a great food and one just waiting to be tried!
If you can, buy the Granovita Organic Fair-trade version, it tastes lovely, and the ethical considerations make this a good choice in today's world, where sustainability issues are at the forefront of many of our minds.
This review is also now on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.