Nobody knew about quinoa till about a few years ago, and now it seems like the health-conscious person’s oxygen! The origins of this grain are believed to be in the area surrounding Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. Quinoa was cultivated and used by pre-Columbian civilizations but was replaced by cereals on the arrival of the Spanish, despite being a local staple food at the time. Quinoa is easily digestible and is a powerhouse of protein and anti-inflammatory, monounsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. As your heart’s best friend, it is believed to reduce cholesterol too.
What makes it even more special is its versatility since it can be added to everyday dishes without worrying about their flavours being disturbed. Still wondering where to start with quinoa? Here’s some help!
1. Blending It Into A Smoothie
Quinoa is flexible when it comes to smoothies. Smoothies make for a wonderful breakfast, so why not add some cooked quinoa to it and make it extra wonderful? It will ensure that your body stays heavy on protein and doesn’t run out of energy.
2. Substitute To Oatmeal
Don’t have time for a grand breakfast? Quinoa takes a shorter time to cook than oats. The tiny grains in quinoa boil quickly and can be coupled with delights like dry fruits, fruits, nuts, seeds, maple syrup, milk…use your imagination! You will have a bowl packed with the highest grade of nutrients in minutes!
3. Addition To Homemade Energy Bars
Energy bars are great to satisfy your sudden hunger needs. Take a pick of your favourite ingredients; nuts, seeds, whole-wheat flour, dry fruits or chocolate chips and to that, add at least a cup of quinoa. Apart from these, if you like it sweet, you may add some honey and basically have your own version of a supremely awesome energy bar.
4. Salad Sprinkle
This one’s simple and easy. Sprinkle cooked quinoa over your favourite greens and you just find yourself one of the best ways to get perfect nutrition. Make a salad with cucumbers, parsley, black beans, tomato, onion cooked in olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle it with a portion of cooked quinoa. Bon appetite!
5. Add To Your Desserts
Difficult to imagine, is it? But the truth is, quinoa works perfectly with pancakes, muffins, puddings, cookies and just about any sweet treat. Adding quinoa is great because it doesn’t change your recipe while making the dish itself a 100 times better, so you can feel less guilty later.
6. Quinoa Fritters
With monsoon comes the craving for fried snacks that are full of taste (and guilt!). Quinoa fritters are scrumptious! Begin by sautéing quinoa, zucchini, parmesan, some herbs and seasoning together. Adding some flour will help bind the batter and shape them into cutlets of any shape so it’s easier to deep fry in either coconut or olive oil. The crisp and nutty texture makes it the perfect companion to a hot cup of tea on a rainy day.
7. Add To Healthy Soups
Soups are meals that comfort your soul. Make your favourite chicken or vegetable stalk and blend it with quinoa before adding it to your soup. It’s an easy and super healthy solution to your daily meals.
8. Rice Substitute
It’s not a fact most people are aware of but quinoa can be used as an excellent substitute for rice. The next time you cook rice or pulao, experiment by replacing it with protein-rich quinoa and add a seasonal vegetable to give it a rich twist.
Moral of the story is quinoa goes with almost everything. All you need to do is be brave enough to use creativity and experiment a bit and you’ll be surprised where the road leads you. Here’s to no more boring, healthy dishes!