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Quinoa with basil pesto & garlic

Quinoa – here with basil pesto & crushed garlic

Quinoa is technically not a grain but a seed and is seriously easy to cook.  It’s really rich in protein at a whopping 14% so will keep you fuller longer.  Make sure to buy whole quinoa grains, not quinoa flakes or flour.  If you (or your kids) struggle to like new tastes, stir in something strong-tasting and familiar (like basil pesto or tomato sauce) prior to serving for the first time.  For a really simple meal, I sometimes cook enough quinoa and when its done but still hot, stir in a drained rinsed tin of chickpeas, a couple of spoons of dairy-free basil/sundried tomato pesto, and some chopped rocket or baby spinach leaves, a little chopped red onion, a clove of crushed garlic and lots of extra virgin olive oil.  This makes a gorgeous warm salad and is lovely cold too (eg. in lunchboxes).  Simple cooked quinoa with pesto would make a great after-school snack too.

For 3 servings (as an accompaniment)
150g (about 3/4 mug) whole quinoa grains
310ml (about 1 1/4 mugs) boiling water

  1. Put your quinoa into a saucepan.  Add the boiling water and cook, covered with a lid or a plate, for about 10 mins.  No need to stir.  Remember never to cook quinoa in cold water if you want it to be fluffy and delicious.
  2. The grains are done when you can see little steam holes in the surface, the water will be absorbed and you can see little curly white lines at the edges of the grains.
    Cooked quinoa

    Cooked quinoa

    Why this is good for you
    Quinoa is rich in essential vitamins and minerals as well as protein so its a pretty good all round food.  It’s a great one to introduce to your kids if you struggle to get them to eat enough protein (eg. meat, fish, eggs, beans) instead of just pasta and bread all the time.   Because quinoa is so high in protein it does not cause the sharp spikes and troughs in blood sugar that so often contribute to energy problems, hyperactivity and concentration difficulties.   It’s also rich in magnesium which you need for keeping chilled out, and potassium which you need for good thyroid function, energy and mood.  Its also high in folic acid, betaine and choline, which are fantastic for your brain health.  Buy organic if you can, as it contains higher levels of essential minerals due to not being exposed to the pesticide glyphosphate (roundup) (see my April 2014 newsletter, shortly to be posted on http://www.annacollins.ie)