I'm sure you've heard that quinoa's is a type of super food with great health benefits but have you ever wondered what quinoa really is? Is it a grain or seed?
Quinoa is considered a seed rather than a grain and comes from the Chenopodium quinoa plant, a plant that produces seeds rather than fruit. It's been farmed in South America for...well hundreds of years but it's only become more popular in our part of the world in last decade or so.
Quinoa is free from wheat and gluten and great to use in your cooking if you are celiac, gluten/wheat intolerant or if you are on the low-FODMAP diet. Sensitive tummies love it - I swear!
I can personally not eat wheat so for me quinoa is a cupboard staple. Why? because the health benefits of eating more quinoa is far better then eating say gluten free pasta or rice. This is mainly down to the fact that quinoa contains complex, gluten-free carbohydrates for slow releasing energy. Other interesting and beneficial facts about quinoa is its protein content and other extremely beneficial nutrients.
Lots of foods contain protein but what's so special about quinoa is that it contains all 20 amino acids our bodies need to build and repair muscles and tissues. Isn't it great we can get it all in one go by just eating one thing!
Quinoa is also great for our gut and digestion as it contains over half of the manganese you need every day. Manganese impacts hormones and digestive enzymes, making it easier for your body to digest and use the food you eat efficiently.
Another gut benefit is that the probiotic or undigested fibre compounds in quinoa work with probiotic enzymes to become fuel for the beneficial bacteria living in the gut.
There are other benefits with quinoa such as that it contains disease fighting antioxidants and it aids wight loss and may help fight cancer but I won't go into more detail as I'm sure you get the message by now - Quinoa is simply great for you so let's eat more of it!!
Now, the thing with quinoa is that if you simply cook it and eat it as it comes it's pretty bland, but like many things bland, mixing or adding a few things to it can make it taste really great and different. You might have come across quinoa as part of a salad where it's an ideal ingredient, but there are many other ways you can use it like in bread, stews, porridge or like in these lovely breakfast muffins.
These quinoa and spinach muffins has a great flavour and although I call them a breakfast muffins but they can be eaten as a snack, for lunch or as part of dinner. They are really filling and lovely.
QUINOA AND SPINNACH BREAKFAST MUFFINS
Makes 4-6 muffins
Olive oil for greasing the muffin tray
2 egg whites
1 tbsp orange juice
1 cup/200ml/1 large hand full spinach
1 cup/200ml pre cooked quinoa
50g feta cheese
Sea salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C / 350ºF and grease the muffin tray with olive oil
2. Mix the eggs with the orange juice, then add spinach, quinoa, feta and spices
3. pour the mix into the greased muffin tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the muffins turn a slightly golden brown colour.