|A dish of quinoa cooked with chopped vegetables and spices.|
This month's featured ingredient is quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah"), which has become a bit of a wholefood staple over the last 15 years or so. It comes originally from the Andean regions of South America, where it was known as "Mother Grain" to the Inca people and held as sacred for its nourishing qualities. The major producers of quinoa today are Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. As demand for quinoa outside these countries is getting high, it is a concern that the people who traditionally grow it and depend on it are becoming unable to afford to eat it themselves as export to more affluent countries inflates the price. (We recommend buying a fair trade brand whenever possible.) Quinoa, although treated as a high-protein grain, is actually not a true grain as it is not a grass but more closely related to beets, Good King Henry (goosefoot) and spinach.
Quinoa is now classed as a "superfood" as it contains all 8 essential amino acids for forming high quality protein. As well as containing carbs, it is also a great source of dietary fibre, magnesium, phosphorous, B-vitamins and iron. It also contains calcium, so is a useful food for vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant. Being gluten free and easy to digest, quinoa is also ideal for coeliacs. Sprouted raw quinoa is higher in vitamins and enzymes than cooked quinoa and soft enough to eat without cooking it, so all the nutrients are preserved.
Cooking with Quinoa:
There are many types of quinoa; the ones we see most often are white, red and sometimes black. In general, you get three times as much volume of quinoa once it's cooked. We usually add twice as much water as quinoa to the pot and cook it a bit like rice. It takes only about 20 minutes to absorb all the water and become soft and fluffy. Add a little salt and olive oil, or cook in stock for even more flavour. Some quinoa (although not all these days) still has its natural coating of bitter substances called saponins, so if you're not sure if it's already been washed, rinse it well in cold water before cooking to get rid if it. Quinoa is great for stuffing vegetables, as a pilaff or upma, in salads and even as an ingredient in vegeburgers. See the links below for some quinoa recipes.
-Oh, and btw the UN have officially declared 2013 to be the "Year of Quinoa", so hopefully its important role in South America's food security will be highlighted and the people there enabled to continue using it as a major part of their diet.
We've decided to make our "Ingredient of the Month" series into a event! Link up your recipes including the current month's ingredient to this post, and on the last day of each month we'll post the roundup. Archived entries are accepted- no need to re-post, but please add the above logo and a link to this page to them. You can use the linky tool below, and tell all your friends they're welcome to join us!- Oh, and only pure vegetarian (no egg) or vegan entries please. Just follow our simple guidelines:-
- You must include our current ingredient of the month in your recipe.
- Pure veg. or vegan only, please- so no meat, fish, eggs or alcohol or ingredients derived thereof (such as gelatine, rennet, eggwhite powder, etc.)
- Please include the logo and link back to this page. We welcome archived entries too; just add the logo and link.
- Use the linky tool below, tell all your friends, and let's see what a wonderful collection of quinoa recipes we can collect! (Where it says "name", type in the name of your recipe and paste the URL of the page it's on in the box underneath.) For some reason, the linky will only display the links once you click on it, not underneath it as part of the post like it used to- we've added some recipes already, so please click below to have a look...