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The goodness of quinoa

What is quinoa (pronounced "keenwah")? While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and Swiss chard. What we buy in the shop and increasingly find on restaurant menus, are the seeds.

What is the big deal about quinoa? Quinoa is actually associated with quite a few health benefits.

It is an excellent source of protein, primarily thanks to its high protein content (14-21% of the seed). The quality of its protein is also worth noting as quinoa contains all 8 essential amino acids. What are amino acids and why are some amino acids essential? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The body requires no less than 20 amino acids to work properly and 8 of these are considered "essential" as the body cannot synthesise them.

It is high in fibre, which helps keep the digestive system running smoothly, as well as reduce the amount of bad cholesterol circulating in the body. So, it is good for the heart and for the digestion.

It is high in nutrients, namely magnesium, manganese, copper, as well as most B vitamins. Quinoa is a vitamin and mineral powerhouse.

It is also low in fat with 85% of its fat content being "good fat", in other words unsaturated fat.

One little note of warning. Raw quinoa has an unpleasant bitter taste. This is due to the saponine ring, which encircles each seed. Simply rinse the quinoa properly and cook in water. The bitterness will disappear and you will be left with fluffy, slightly crunchy and a somewhat nutty-tasting seed.

Try my butternut squash chill with quinoa. You'll love it!

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