Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite go-to dinner recipes on a busy workday. It is a cheesy quinoa bake. Before I tell you about this recipe I want to discuss the health benefits of cooking with quinoa.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa or ‘keen wa’ as it is pronounced is a gluten free, healthy grain alternative. In fact qunioa is the buzz word for healthy and is trending the health food scene for quite a while now. I discovered quinoa only after moving to London. I had heard of quinoa but never came across it in Bangalore. Quinoa is not actually a grain but an edible seed and is known as a pseudo cereal like buckwheat. It is originally from South America. It has a high level of protein (twice the amount of rice) and is considered a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids. A similar Indian cereal is Rajgira or Amaranth which is also considered a complete protein and is a very nutritious, gluten free grain. Quinoa also has good levels of calcium, manganese, magnesium, vitamins B and E as well as dietary fibre. All in all making this a very healthy grain alternative to your every dinner. You can learn more about the health benefits of quinoa from here and here.
Is quinoa a sustainable ingredient?
Critiques claim that demands for quinoa have caused it to become a very valuable commodity in South America, causing it to become a very expensive grains for the locals and thus stripping them off their daily food as they can longer afford it. However British farmers have now successfully cultivated quinoa and have claimed that their variety is more tasty and healthy. This in my opinion is a good to hear and provides an alternative source to purchase quinoa without worrying.
How to cook quinoa?
This is the way I cook my quinoa. I first thoroughly wash the seeds. I then cook the quinoa in three times its portion of water. This means for 1 cup of quinoa I use three cups of water. I like to use hot water from the kettle to speed up the process. I usually add half a Veg stock cube to add some flavour, you can add salt instead. I cook my quinoa on the stove top. I bring it to boil and then leave it to simmer with a lid for twenty minutes or so. You can tell quinoa is cooked when you see small white tails emerging out of each seed like a sprout (just like in the picture). I like to cook it till all the water is absorbed, the quinoa is plump and the white tails are out.
Healthy recipes for dinner: Cheesy baked quinoa!
Now coming to my recipe for adding quinoa to your daily dinner. This is one of my healthy delicious quinoa recipes for a busy weekday night. It is a simple baked quinoa and cheese recipe made with baked beans and aubergine. I really like using baked beans (I use the one with reduced sugars) as it is a quick way for me too add some protein into my meal without having to plan too much for it. I slice and bake the aubergines separately before layering it in my bake to add an extra crunch and flavour to the meal. My husband finds the aubergine the high point of the meal! You can add any type of vegetable to the casserole. I usually add courgette, mushrooms and peppers.
This is a vegetarian, gluten free meal which can be made in a jiffy! Substitute the quinoa for brown rice or wholemeal couscous if you don’t have it handy. Scroll down for the recipe and be sure to tell me how it goes if you do try it at home!
Healthy tip for the day!
I really like to use quinoa as a cereal substitute in dinner time. I also like quinoa because it fills you up quickly and a little goes a long way. This is the best aspect of eating whole grains or seeds in this case than refined cereals like white rice, pasta and cous cous, you easily feel full and satisfied on a smaller portion food. Hence no problem of over eating and feeling guilty! Do give quinoa a shot today if you haven’t already and try incorporating it into your regular meals!
Store Cupboard Tip # 6
Stock you larder with baked beans for a quick healthy protein addition to your dinner. Baked beans are a source of sugar though so choose the ones with reduced sugars and check the nutrition label before purchasing. I currently use Heinz’s reduced sugars baked beans.