Generally known as a whole grain, it is in point of fact a seed originating from South America that can be cooked in the same way you would cook rice or barley. It has a lovely nutty flavour and its versatility lends itself to savoury dishes such as salads, soups and stir-fries which can be used instead of rice and pasta and in sweet dishes too! For the health-conscious amongst us, quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids and has the highest protein content of all the whole grains, particularly important for vegetarians and vegans. The two minerals found in quinoa are copper and manganese which together may aid weight loss. They act as an antioxidant and help the body fight free radicals that can cause the body to develop diseases. It is gluten-free so perfect for celeriac's plus it is cholesterol-free which benefits all of us.
It has established itself as a 'superfood' and is a 'must buy' ingredient if you want to lose weight because it's extremely rich in complete protein and complex carbs.
Quinoa should be obtainable in most health food shops these days and if not ask them to source it for you. Also look in the 'health food' sections of supermarkets. As more and more people are learning about its nutritional value, rice and other grains are fast being replaced with quinoa. There are 3 varieties of quinoa, the most common being white with red and black being the rarest, therefore difficult to find. You can buy it in different forms e.g. puffed, rolled into flakes (nice for breakfast)and whole. Apparently, the leaves are edible and taste similar to chard or silver beet.
Before preparing your meal make sure the quinoa is rinsed well because the surface contains a chemical called saponin that has a bitter taste and if left unwashed (a) would not be good for you and (b) wouldn't taste nice. Most ready-to-buy quinoa will already be washed and have the saponin removed but it's best to wash it anyway to be on the safe side. As with rice you shouldn't over cook the grain, it should be firm in texture with a slightly nutty taste. To enjoy it at its best simply add your favourite herbs or spices and ingredients and voila, you have a nutritious meal high in fibre and rich in iron. To ring its praises further - for those of us trying to lose weight it not only cuts the calories but it keeps us feeling fuller for longer!