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For those on a wheat-free diet (and for those who aren’t !!), quinoa (pronounced “Keen-wah”) is a wonderful alternative to rice and couscous. Native to the Andean Mountains of Peru, Bolivia and Chile, it has been referred to as “Inca rice” and means “Mother grain” in the Inca language, although it is not technically a grain, but a fruit. It belongs to the same family as Amaranth, a fellow “pseudo-grain”.

Easy to cook, it has a light, slightly nutty flavour which works well as a base for more colourful and bolder flavoured foods. Once cooked, it boasts little white curls, which have been likened in one book I read recently to halos. So, you could think of it as an angelic food, because it is certainly very good for you!! It contains all of the essential amino acids, so is a good source of protein, as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron, various B vitamins and more.

I’ve usually got a pot of either cooked quinoa or brown rice on hand to dip into to create a healthy base for an easy vegetarian meal, and I often cook my quinoa with some turmeric to give it a golden hue. I like to cook my quinoa until it is soft. This way, it is more digestible.

I’m a bit of a “bung it all in the pot” type of cook. It’s easy to make a no-nonsense vegetable risotto, either by cooking the vegetables with the quinoa OR by stirring them in at the end.

For instance,

  • Throw in a collection of different vegetables into the cooking pot. Try onions, garlic, different coloured peppers, tomatoes (fresh and sundried), a bit of chopped seaweed such as Wakame, broccoli and others. This makes a nice soft risotto.
  • Assemble a colourful plate of yumminess by stirring in a mix of cooked and raw vegetables into the already cooked quinoa. I steam a mix of cauli, broccoli, leek, tomatoes and mushrooms. I then add the following raw: a little fresh ginger, peeled and grated (provides nice yellow strands to the dish); a little fresh turmeric, peeled and grated (orange strands); a garlic clove crushed; a Romero red pepper, chopped very finely, a bit of cucumber chopped into small cubes and some lovely black olives.

Topping for either method….

  • A little freshly squeezed lemon juice and a grind or two of Himalayan Salt make a nice addition.
  • A good drizzling of olive oil
  • Top with a generous dollop of home-made hummus and/or roughly chopped avocado and you have a delicious healthy dish.

Enjoy !! 🙂 🙂

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