What is quinoa, pronounced keenwah!

It’s a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds, closely related to spinach and beets.

The grains range in colour from white, to red and black. Unlike wheat and rice, it is high in lysine.

It’s also a good source of fibre, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron.

Like oats, it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, so it’s a complete protein, and

compared to other grains, it has a very high protein content (12-18%). As it is gluten free considered to be easily digestible and suitable for those with Coeliac disease.

Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where humans were farming & eating it 3000 to 4000 years ago (though there is archaeological evidence of its pastoral herding some 5200 to 7000 years ago!). The Incas felt that the crop was sacred and referred to it as “mother of all grains”.

Quinoa should always be rinsed thoroughly until water runs clear. Then cooked 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. When water boils cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. You can cook it in stock to add flavour for savoury dishes.

Once cooked, quinoa has a mild nutty flavor and fluffy texture, similar to couscous

It can replace couscous or rice in most recipes – so it’s a great for things like stuffed peppers, stuffed squash or pilafs. It is good served cold in salad with veggies and a light dressing. It could also replace your oatmeal at breakfast, quinoa flakes are available which could be used in breakfast porridge or to boost the content of baked goods. Quinoa flour is also available for baking.

Quick chickpea and quinoa curry 

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed until water is clear then drained
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 400ml can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 400ml can chickpeas
  • 3 tbsp curry powder (curry powders vary in heat, use less if in doubt)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 large handfuls of chopped spinach or kale
  • ½ tsp crushed red chilli pepper
  • cilantro to garnish



  1. In a medium saucepan, mix quinoa, coconut milk, tomatoes (with juice), curry powder and tomato paste, and bring to boil. Lower heat to lowest setting, cover saucepan and simmer until quinoa is ready, about 15 minutes.
  2.  Whilst quinoa is cooking, in a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat and stir-fry the garlic and onion until translucent. Add the carrot and saute for a couple minutes, then add the chickpeas and cook for further couple of minutes.
  3.  Add the spinach/kale and cook until wilted, about a minute.
  4.  Mix the veggies with the quinoa, season with salt, pepper and crushed red chili pepper, and garnish with cilantro before serving.
  5. Serves 4 and is a quick high protein vegan meal.