Quinoa is definitely on the rise as a popular health food and you have probably started noticing it pop up everywhere, your local store, on social media, at your local café or restaurant just to name a few. If you have my Healthy eBook again you will notice I use quinoa a lot in my recipes as it is very diverse. I use quinoa in breakfasts, salads, mains and even dessert recipes.

So what is quinoa? Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”) is a seed that is harvested from a species of a plant called goosefoot. It is officially a seed and part of a group of pseudo cereals, making it neither a cereal nor a grain, and more closely related to spinach and beets than to cereals or grains.

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free which is why I use it for my healthy lifestyle, I try to avoid many grains such as wheat, rye and barley as gluten is their major protein component which can be difficult to digest and can cause inflammation of the gut and other problems.

Quinoa also contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fibre. It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein and comprised of all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa also has a high protein to carbohydrate ratio when compared to other grain products.

Quinoa helps you regulate the digestive system and keeps you fuller and more satisfied. White pastas, white rice and white breads provide us with simple carbohydrates that are quickly digested but have little else in the way of nutritional value.

Quinoa also commonly comes in three varieties of white, red and black. They have slight differences in nutritional values but are fairly similar. In terms of taste, the red and black varieties tend to have an earthier flavour.  Black quinoa also has a slightly sweeter taste versus white quinoa.  When cooked, white quinoa comes out fluffier and loses its shape a bit more than red or black quinoa.  As a result, both red and black quinoa tend to be a bit crunchier in texture. My preference purely on taste and texture is the white quinoa but I do utilise a super grain mix consisting of white, red and black quinoa and amaranth in my healthy lifestyle.

Red white and black quinoa  cookedquinoa-white-red-black
In summary I use quinoa as a substitute to rice, pasta and cereals and you will see this in all my recipes. It is also easy to prepare, you cook it exactly like you would rice. I utilise the same one cup of quinoa to two cups of water ratio rule as you would when you cook rice when cooking my quinoa. I cook it in a medium saucepan on the stovetop utilising boiled water from the kettle as it speeds up the process, bring to the boil then cover with a lid and reduce the heat and simmer until all the water has evaporated, approximately 10 minutes. Once cooked fluff it with a fork and set aside to cool.

Quinoa cooked and uncookedThere is much debate over whether quinoa is paleo friendly, so to be safe you will notice in my Healthy eBook I don’t suggest that the recipe is paleo friendly when I call for it in the ingredients list. Although there are a lot of celebrity chefs and cooks that are paleo friendly that utilise quinoa in their healthy lifestyles as it’s a wheat free, gluten free alternative.

So why not try quinoa as a substitute to rice, pasta and cereals in your lifestyle. Another simple, easy, healthy change to you and your family’s lifestyle!

Check out my Healthy eBook to view a number of healthy and delicious recipes using quinoa including the following:

Bircher Museli Gluten Free
Bircher Museli 2Quinoa Breaky Bowl
Quinoa, Pea and Cucumber Salad
Tabbouleh Salad
Gluten Free Hamburgers
Quinoa Salad with Eye Fillet
Salmon Patties
Slow Cooked Lamb with Super Grains Mix Salad
Turkey Burgers
Sweet Coconut Quinoa