Quinoa bowl


Quinoa. It’s one of the staple carbohydrates in a “free-from” diet and one of the easiest to find in a supermarket these days. On its own, it’s not the most interesting food to eat, its flavor sits somewhere between couscous and brown rice but when paired with other ingredients and whole foods, it makes a wonderful base for pilafs, a side dish for stews and roasts and an excellent ingredient in salads.

The “super grain” is not only gluten-free but also incredibly healthy, providing more fiber and protein than rice. It’s not a grain, but an ancient seed originally farmed in South America before exploding onto the healthy nutrition scene a few years ago. Quinoa comes in three types commercially; white, red and black, each varying in flavor and texture.

White quinoa is the most popular variety and produces a lighter, fluffier quinoa. It also cooks quicker than red or black quinoa.

Red quinoa has a firmer texture and is ideal for salads. It looks more brownish when cooked.

Black quinoa has an earthier and sweeter taste, but holds its shape and colour when cooked. It’s mainly used in salads.

Each variety has a slightly longer or shorter cooking time, but all quinoa seeds should be rinsed thoroughly in water before cooking to remove the saponin coating, which gives a bitter taste when cooked.

The benefits of including quinoa in your diet include:

1.     Nutritious, as well as high in fiber and protein

2.     Gluten-free – ideal for gluten intolerance

3.     Low glycemic index

4.     High in anti-oxidants – fights ageing and disease

5.     Helps with weight loss - due to high fiber, protein and low glycemic index


Quinoa bowl with spinach and roasted mushrooms

This is one of my go-to meals as I can prep the pilaf and roasted mushrooms separately and store in the refrigerator for busy weekday lunches.

Serves 4.

quinoa and spinach pilaf

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup water

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

150g bag baby spinach

  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot and sauté the onion until softened. Add the quinoa, spinach, water and seasoning.

  2. Simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes, add the spinach and cook another 5 minutes with the lid on.

  3. Fluff the pilaf with a fork before serving.

Roasted Mushrooms with garlic and thyme

250g white mushrooms

250g brown mushrooms

3-4 whole cloves garlic

2 shallots, peeled and quartered

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded

Extra virgin olive oi

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.

  2. Place all the ingredients into a small baking dish. Season and drizzle with a little olive oil.

  3. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, turning once halfway.

To assemble the bowls

Arrange the pilaf and roasted mushrooms into individual bowls. Top each bowl with Greek yoghurt, sauerkraut or any other fermented / pickled vegetables.

for Food prep

Store the Quinoa and spinach pilaf and roasted mushrooms in separate containers with lids and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.