Images: Tori Haschka (supplied)
Want a head start to eating better this week? Commit some cooked quinoa to Tupperware. It should sit in the annals of celebrated life hacks along with Siri’s ability to flip a coin.
Beyond the fact this South American pseudocereal is a lower-GI alternative to comforting white carbs, it’s blessed with a pleasing al dente ‘pop’ when cooked. Plus, this is one superfood that won’t get stuck in your teeth (chia seeds, I’m looking at you).
If you cook a batch of it on a Sunday night as a base for some meals this week, it will keep happily in the fridge for six to seven days — and portioned out in the freezer for eight to 12 months.
The traditional way to cook quinoa involves the absorption method on the stove. However, if you’re looking for a more hands-off technique — those of us who get distracted and let the pot boil dry, let’s raise our arms — try cooking it in a microwave.
Get hold of a microwave-safe bowl or Tupperware container that’s at least four times the size of the portion of quinoa you’ve measured, to prevent it surging over the top along the way. Rinse the quinoa well in a strainer and combine it with 1.75 times its volume of water (for two cups of dried quinoa, use three and a half cups of water). Place a lid on and cook on high for 10 minutes. Allow to sit and steam on the bench with the lid on for another 10 minutes, and fluff with a fork before transferring to the fridge.
Then pat yourself on the back, because you’ve jumped on the express lane to eating better this week. Here are four delicious ways to eat up all that quinoa:
Quinoa bircher with melon and yoghurt
This recipe serves one person.
½ cup/90 g of cooked quinoa
1 cup of chopped melon pieces; try rockmelon, honeydew, watermelon or a mix of all three
3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
(Optional: small drizzle of orange blossom water, chopped pistachios)
Combine all in a bowl. Eat.
Apricot & Almond Quinoa Bars
This recipe makes 12 bars. They will keep in the fridge for a week, and they also freeze well between sheets of baking paper. If you need to make these nut-free you can easily swap out the almonds for pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
1 baking tray, the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Baking paper to line.
50 g butter, melted (can also substitute coconut oil)
75 g of maple syrup (or rice malt syrup or honey, though the maple gives a nice floral sweetness)
1 cup/90 g rolled oats (though if intolerant to oats, substitute with rolled quinoa)
1 1/4 cups/250 g of cooked quinoa
75 g dried apricots
50 g blanched almonds, chopped
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 150c
2. Combine the butter and syrup in a saucepan and heat gently to melt the butter. Once melted allow to simmer for a minute, then remove from heat.
3. While the butter is melting, chop the almonds and apricots into small pieces.
4. Combine the lukewarm butter and syrup with the eggs and whisk to combine.
5. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
6. Grease and line a baking dish approximately the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Press the mixture into the dish, ensuring that the surface is even.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the surface is golden and firm to touch. Allow to cool, then slice into 12 bars.