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Quinoa has been around for about 4000 years, originating in the Andean regions of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru.  Nutritionally its often compared with cereals, however a cereal it is not, almost a pseudo cereal due to its physical appearance. I usually describe it to look like couscous.

Commonly know as the super grain….however its actually a seed!  Super it most definitely is, its well balanced amino acid content make it an exceptional nutritional source of ….high quality complete PROTEIN.

As well as fats and carbohydrates, protein is a key macro nutrient and is made up of a combination of amino acids. Its one of the building blocks of body tissue and can also be used as a fuel source.  I’d say it’s a pretty important source of fuel.

So why am I writing about it? I often encourage clients to try it as part of a healthy eating programme, with view to reducing their starchy carbohydrate intake.  As soon as ‘reduce carbs’ is mentioned, I see melt downs, toys thrown out of prams, tears, verbal abuse… name it, I’ve seen it…..
“how will I fill up” they cry, “but I get hungry” I hear, so I bring out the quinoa card…..”simply use quinoa where you would have your pastas, rice, breads, potatoes, cereals etc”,  I say….simples….then silence…..

Next obstacle, how to cook it.  Just as you would cook rice but be warned it is rather bland. I am queen of flavour, don’t do the bland thing.
So I go to town with my flavours…especially ginger, garlic and chillies.  When my husband and I first got together, he dreaded mealtimes because he didn’t know when the dreaded ginger, garlic and chillies would rear their heads….now he’s used to it, or immune to it….geddit? spices good for the immune system? LOL anyway I digress.

So flavour and quinoa is the purpose of this post.  My signature quinoa dish is masala quinoa, cook it in bulk and use as and when necessary.  Some flavourful recipes can be found below:

Masala quinoa:
Fry some cumin seeds and onions in coconut oil, chuck in the quinoa, and add the water as you do when you cook it normally, then bung in a bit of salt, garam masala, chopped ginger and some Kenyan beauties (green chillies) – chopped, then cook as normal. its yum!!! (You can add frozen peas/sweetcorn when your throw in the quinoa, makes it colourful too)

Tomato and basil quinoa:
Fry a couple of cloves of garlic in coconut oil, chuck in some fresh / tinned tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper, cook for about 5-7 minutes, take off the heat and throw in some fresh basil.  Stir into pre-boiled quinoa….and bon apetit!

Quinoa porridge:

Add a few tablespoons to your porridge and cook as normal.

Quinoa crackers – I found this great quinoa cracker site, tried out the recipe and voila:

Another great quinoa cracker site – perfect with a little spread of almond / cashew butter.

I’ve used quinoa to revive leftovers: Moroccan spiced leg of lamb and quinuoa with broccoli one day…..lamb quinuoa biryani the next!! LUSH

As its the festive season, try some quinoa stuffing……

Gluten and wheat free”New Skinny Me” friendly stuffing:

Mix together 1-2 cups of quinoa and chopped onions, sage, egg with coconut oil. Make stuffing balls and stuff the turkey.
ORMix together 1-2 cups of quinoa chopped onions, mushrooms, chestnuts, egg and coconut oil.You can add minced pork to either of the above.

More recipes can be found in the Meal Ideas & Recipes section of this blog:

Masala Meatloaf, Zesty quinoa salad, Green pesto quinoa, Spiced aubergine and quinoa stuffed peppers.

I’m always experimenting with different ideas to jazz up my quinoa, I keep the ingredients clean and simple, and throw in some spice for a boost.

These are just a few ideas of what I would do with quinoa to maintain a clean healthy lifestyle.
I repeat:

Simply substitute it for your favourite starchy carb recipe and you are on your way.

If you have any ideas and recipes for quinoa, please do send them in and share the quinoa love!
Keep it ‘Real’!

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