My top four fun facts about quinoa:
It’s not a grain – it’s in fact a seedYou know the tiny spiral that appears when you cook quinoa? That’s the germ – i.e. the very inner of the seed. Although people often refer to quina as a grain it’s botanically a seed of a plant that is closely related to spinach. This also means that quinoa is gluten free, making it a great alternative for couscous for coeliacs.
The year 2013 was officially the year of quinoaThat’s right. In 2013 the UN deemed that quinoa would solve so many of the world’s economic, cultural nutritional and food supply related issues that it gave the super food it’s very own year of distinction. The UN regognised quinoa as a potential tool for empowering farmers in underdeveloped areas, primarily in South America, to produce this adaptable crop for the local community, providing empowerment and good nutrition.
It’s a complete proteinNot many vegetarian proteins can boast this fact. Without boring you all with a full biochemistry lesson, it basically means that the protein is complete with all nine essential amino acids. Essential means that the human body can’t make them for themselves, so we need them from the foods we eat. Incomplete proteins need to be consumed alongside other foods (within a 24 hour period) that have the particular amino acids that are absent in that food – these are known as the limiting amino acids. Foods such as quinoa that have a complete set of essential amino acids will act as a valid protein component of a meal and don’t need to be combined with other grains or pulses.
If it’s bitter, it’s your own faultEach quinoa seed is coated with a bitter, waxy substance called saponin, which needs to be rinsed off before cooking. Simply place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under a cold tap for a minute, then place ain in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil.
We have featured many quinoa recipes on our menus in the last five years and most of them have been delicious! I’d love to hear which one you loved the most!