Go against the grain

...and start replacing those gluten-filled, bloating starches with Quinoa (pronounced keenwah).

We eat a lot of grains in the UK, especially wheat, which is found in everything from bread and pasta to biscuits, cakes and even sausages and sauces. The problem is that wheat and other grains contain gluten, which is tough to digest, they are starchy carbohydrates that release their energy quickly, leading insulin spikes which encourage the storage of calories as fat. Quinoa looks, tastes and cooks like a grain, but it is actually a seed. Its seedy status means quinoa is gluten-free and has a high level of protein; use it to replace pasta, rice, noodles or cous cous in your favourite recipes.

Here are my favourite ways with quinoa to inspire you:

Tabouleh Gluten-Free Style

quinoa_tabouleh (250x188)

This Middle Eastern dish is normally made with bulgar wheat, but this is an adaptation of the traditional recipe, which replaces this (often hard to digest) grain with lovely protein-rich quinoa.

Serves 4 (as a side salad with a portion of fish, chicken or dish of your choice)


  • 120g quinoa (dried weight)
  • 250ml water
  • ½ cucumber, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • A big bunch of flat leaf parsley (about 12 tbsp) and half as much fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper and natural, unrefined salt such as pink Himalayan (which contains 84 different minerals) or sea salt such as Maldon


  1. Gently simmer the quinoa and water for 10-15 minutes until all water is absorbed and the quinoa seeds have ‘popped’ open
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool
  3. Chop the vegetables and herbs, then stir them into the cooled quinoa
  4. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice, stir through and season to taste

Quinoa Porridge

Quinoa porridge image 1

Porridge is normally made with oats, but why not go gluten-free for a change. This recipe is super-charged with linseeds, adding further protein, essential fatty acids and fibre, which increase satiety and keeps you going for hours. For quicker cooking time replace the quinoa seeds with quinoa flakes.

Serves 2-4


  • 150g quinoa
  • 200ml water
  • 100ml rice milk, soya milk or nut milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp linseeds (also known as flaxseeds) soaked overnight
  • Chopped apple and strawberries to serve


  1. Place all ingredients except the fruit in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10minutes or until the quinoa has popped.
  2. Turn off the heat and let the mixture stand for a few minutes before serving with the fresh fruit

Claire is a yoga enthusiast and runs The Nutrition Guide providing tailored one-to-one nutritional consultations, on energy, skin health and much more.

27 August 2013