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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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On-trend food from South America

Quinoa is becoming one of the most trendy side dishes in the kitchen. The red-brown, yellow or white grains have been grown and eaten as a staple food in South America for 6,000 years. Quinoa is ideal for cultivating in the Andes, because it can tolerate high altitudes, poor soil and heat and drought.


Quinoa is not one of the sweet grasses like wheat or rye, instead it belongs to the Amaranth family and is related to spinach and beetroot. it's considered a pseudocereal. Quinoa is a gluten-free food so it can be eaten by people with celiac disease (gluten intolerant) or are gluten sensitive.


Valuable nutrients – especially for vegans

Quinoa has a lot of nutrition benefits. Per 100 g you get 14 g protein, 6 g fat and 57 g carbohydrates. Half the fat is in the form of mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Quinoa is also relatively rich in minerals such as magnesium (300 mg per 100 g), iron (8 mg), potassium (804 mg) and calcium (124 mg). In addition it contains all the essential amino acids such as lysine which is a major constituent of collagen in connective tissue.


Protein-rich pseudocereals like quinoa or amaranth are an interesting addition to your daily menu, especially for vegans who need alternative sources of protein. The quinoa you buy in Europe is generally debittered. Nonetheless you should rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking it to make sure any residual bitterness is removed.

Cooking couldn't be easier

It's a good idea to start by frying the quinoa briefly in olive oil to bring out the nutty flavour. Then add twice the volume of hot water or bouillon, bring it to the boil and simmer (without a lid) for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, let the quinoa stand for a couple of minutes and then you have the perfect side dish. Flavour it with a dab of butter or a dash of oil and a pinch of salt. Don't overcook quinoa otherwise it willl become soggy.


You can also buy quinoa flour to bake with or puffed quinoa to add to muesli. It's available in organic food stores, health food stores and in many supermarkets. If you can find it, choose organically grown quinoa to avoid exposure to pollutants.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de