Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Chestnuts

Quinoa (pronounced kinwa) originated from South America 3,000 to 4,000 years ago and was a key staple of the Incan diet.  Today it has been dubbed a superfood for its plethora of health benefits.  Here are the Top 6 Health Benefits to eating Quinoa, followed by my delicious recipe.

• High in Protein - contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein, which makes its protein content comparably to milk.

• Full of Essential Vitamins - High in B vitamins, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, folate, potassium, calcium and vitamin E

• High in Antioxidants – contains phytonutrients quercetin and kaempferol, which are anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting.

• Promotes Healthy Blood Sugar Levels -   It’s rich in complex carbohydrates that slowly digest keeping your blood sugar and appetite level.

• Gluten Free –quinoa is a perfect substitute for pasta, oats and wheat flour products, particularly if you are gluten intolerant or suffer from Celiac disease.

• High in Dietary Fibre – supports a healthy digestive system, regular bowel movements and reduced risk of developing future cardiovascular conditions.

Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Chestnuts

Serves 4

1 cup dry organic quinoa
2 cups water
1 bunch of heirloom multi coloured baby carrots
8 chestnuts, please see preparation notes below
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 bunch of parsley, shredded
1/2 red onion sliced

1 tablespoon thyme leaves
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rice malt syrup or raw honey

1. Soak quinoa overnight or up to 6 hours – this ensures that it digests easily. (optional)

2. Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Saponin, when removed from quinoa, produces a soapy solution in water. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use. 

3. Place quinoa in a grain strainer and rinse thoroughly with water. Add it into a medium pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat when done.

4. Preheat oven to 180C. If not organic, peel the carrots.  Add them to a bowl and mix with oil, salt, pepper and thyme.

5. Before roasting chestnuts they should be rinsed and dried, and a small slit or cross must be made in the skin or they will burst. On an oven tray lined with baking paper, spread the whole carrots to one side and then add the chestnuts, which incidentally do not need to be season, on the other side of the tray.  

6. Roast for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender and slightly golden at the edges. Chestnuts are very difficult to peel once cold. Use a tea-towel or heat resistant gloves, and peel them as soon as possible. Chop them in half.

7. For the dressing: In a small bowl whisk all ingredients together with a fork or small whisk. To make the salad toss quinoa, roasted carrots, parsley, red onion and dressing in a large bowl until coated.

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