Super Grain Quinoa

by Dinethri Ramasundara APD AN

Quinoa (pronounced as “keen-wah) is an ancient grain, primarily grown for its edible seeds. It is bitter in taste in its uncooked form and turns to a more of Cous Cous consistency with a nutty taste when well cooked. White, red and black are the three main varieties that I have come across so far and I find quinoa a nutritious and versatile grain for many meals. It is readily available in supermarkets and health food shops in Australia.
Nutritional value
• Great source of protein- This high protein grain contains 8 essential amino acids. Essential and Non essential amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. However, our bodies cannot produce these essential amino acids so we have to ensure we get it through our diet. Usually they are found in animal products like meat, milk and eggs making this grain perfect for vegetarians
• Good source of Iron- Iron helps to transport Oxygen in your body
• Has B vitamins- Important for boosting the energy metabolism within your body
• Has Calcium- Plays a vital role in bone health
• Has Magnesium- Ensures your nervous system working healthy
• Vitamin E- An antioxidant that helps you fight disease and help age you gracefully
• Good source of fibre- Important to keep your bowels healthy and keeps you fuller for longer
• Low in GI (Glycemic Index)- Ideal for diabetics and people wanting to loose some weight because it keeps your blood levels stable with the sustained energy release so you feel fuller for longer
• Naturally Gluten free- Do I hear a cheer from Coeliacs’? That’s right people, those who suffer from Coeliac’s disease and gluten intolerance can include this in their diets
How to cook it?
For 1 cup of quinoa add 2 cups of water. The grain becomes translucent and a white rim appears when it is well cooked. It is important to rinse the seeds well prior cooking to remove bitterness.
Tips: Replace ¼ cup of water with ¼ cup of stock to add some extra flavour
Ways it can be enjoyed
Quinoa flakes can be used as porridge, which makes it a great breakfast option. During those cold winters it can be used to create warm puddings similar to a rice puddings.
In my household it’s more popular as a dinner or lunch meal. You could have it either hot or cold according to your liking! Great thing about quinoa is you can actually play with many flavours and can be served with many dishes as an accompaniment.

My Spicy hot and cold Quinoa salad (serves 4)
Hot and Spicy Quinoa salad
1 medium sweet potato
6-8 button mushrooms roughly diced
Finely chop ½ red onion
Handful of coriander leaves finely chopped or to taste
1 Lebanese cucumber diced
1 tomato diced
1 red capsicum diced
1 can of no added salt five bean mix, rinsed
Asian Prawn/ Shrimp paste ½-1 teaspoon
Quinoa 1 cup- cooked using packet instructions (add ¼ tsp of vegetable stock powder for extra flavour)
Pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice to taste


1. Pre heat you oven at 200 degrees. Spread cut up mushroom and sweet potato in an oven tray bake. Spray with cooking oil and bake for 10-15 minutes or till well cooked.

2. In a salad bowl combine the red onion, cucumber, tomato, capsicum, five bean mix, coriander, cooked sweet potato, mushroom, quinoa and prawn paste.

3. Mix well and add lemon juice and pepper to suit your taste pallet