Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah was an important, sacred crop for the Incas. There are three main types: white, red and black. This is the nutrient content in 185 grams of cooked quinoa

  • Protein: 8 grams.
  • Fibre: 5 grams.
  • Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 19% of the RDA.
  • Copper: 18% of the RDA.
  • Iron: 15% of the RDA.
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
  • Potassium 9% of the RDA.
  • Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
  • Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.

This comes with a total of 222 calories, with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. It also contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Quinoa is much higher in fibre than most grains and is naturally gluten-free. Quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol – potent plant antioxidants. Quinoa is high in protein compared to most plant foods. It also contains all the essential amino acids that you need, making it an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans. The glycaemic index of quinoa is around 53, which is considered low. However, it’s still relatively high in carbs. Quinoa is very high in minerals, but its phytic acid can partly prevent them from being absorbed. Soaking or sprouting degrades most of the phytic acid and increases their antioxidant levels even further.

Easy to cook

  • Put 2 cups (240 ml) of water in a pot, turn up the heat.
  • Add 1 cup (170 grams) of raw quinoa, with a dash of salt.
  • Simmer gently for 15–20 minutes.

It should now have absorbed most of the water and have a fluffy look with a mild, nutty flavour and a satisfying crunch.

Find many healthy and diverse recipes for quinoa online. I have used it to make Tabbouleh instead of the usual bulgur wheat.