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Quinoa ticks so many boxes – tasty, quick cooking, packed with nutrition, gluten free, versatile and colourful it features in soups, salads, sides, mains, desserts and snacks. It is now grown around the world. What a tasty success story. While it may currently be the trendiest grain on the block, it’s not so very long ago that none of us outside the Altiplano had heard of it. But it has always been the Americas other major grain. But, unlike corn (maize), the rest of the world forgot about it for several hundred years. How come the comeback? Three enthusiastic Americans—Stephen Gorad, Don McKinley and David Cusack of the Quinoa Corporation (now Ancient Harvest brand) put quinoa on our plates.

Spice roasted cauliflower, quinoa and petipa pilaf
The recipe shown in the photograph is Chrissy Freer’s Spice roasted cauliflower, quinoa and petipa pilaf courtesy Australian Healthy Food Guide.

To rinse or not to rinse? 
Like many seeds, quinoa arms itself with bitter-tasting compounds in its outer skin to deter the unwelcome attention from insects and birds. In this case it’s saponins. Most quinoa has been treated in some way to remove the saponins before being packaged for sale, but it’s probably a good idea to pop the grains in a sieve and run them under cold water first. Saponins are phytochemicals found in very small amounts in many plants including veggies (peas, soybeans) and herbs. They tend to pass straight through us as they are poorly absorbed by our bodies. Heating destroys them. Naming rights comes from the soapwort plant (Saponaria officinalis)—its root was used as soap (Latin sapo “soap”) as they have a natural foaming tendency. With natural cleaning products making a comeback, there’s growing interest in using saponins for making natural detergents.

Chia nutrition facts
 Source: The Good Carbs Cookbook