Quinoa… In Bath we grow.

With the Bath Farm Girls of Corston

I was lucky enough to catch up with Emily when she came to the Cardio kit (www.cardiologistskitchen.com) open day at Neston Farm shop. It was particularly fascinating for me as years back I used to live in Corston and used to walk my dog only a stones throw from where the fields are.

As well as cooking with her wonderful Quinoa, I caught up with her and asked her a few questions.

What do you think is the main selling point for quinoa? Dietary or taste?
There are several reasons people buy quinoa, they fall into 4 main categories; First up there are the vegans and vegetarians who are looking for a complete protein and can find it in quinoa. Secondly, the gluten-sensitive or coeliacs who really want a versatile ingredient whilst remaining safely away from gluten. Quinoa is actually a vegetable but because of its plant pathology it looks and can be used like a grain which makes it interesting and diverse. Thirdly, there are the diabetics or people with impaired glucose tolerance that have become resistant to the action of insulin or cannot produce insulin rapidly enough to match the release of glucose into the blood after eating carbohydrate-containing foods. This means their blood glucose levels may rise above the normal level. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, such as quinoa, release glucose gradually into the bloodstream so the blood glucose response is slower and flatter. Fourthly, there are the meat-eating, gluten-loving, insulin tolerant folk who just like the versatility and taste of quinoa and are willing to try something different!  They know that quinoa is nutritionally dense and that it will enhance any meal it’s added too, but they also enjoy the taste so it’s a win-win!
How is the efficiency of the growth of Quinoa compared to wheat?
Wheat and quinoa are completely different to grow. We plant quinoa in the spring and as it is a broad leaf plant it quickly establishes a canopy which effectively bullies out any emerging weeds. It’s grown without the use of pesticides and is harvested in September time. Wheat is much slower growing, we plant it in the autumn and harvest in the summer, as a grass it is susceptible to being dominated by other weeds which can be hard to manage.  However, when harvested, wheat is easy to manage, it is heavy and tends to behave itself, quinoa, on the other hand, is like a naughty child; it clings to every surface it can, doesn’t move when you ask it too and is generally completely stubborn!  It very high maintenance and not for the faint hearted.  
It’s hard to compare the efficiency of the two as they tend to behave so differently that you’ll probably spend equal amounts of time on each, just at different stages of management!
I have never used quinoa flour before; How could I use it?
The high protein content in quinoa flour means it tends to keep it’s elasticity better than some other gluten-free flours and you keep all the additional benefits like the essential amino acids, low gi carbs etc I use it like a plain wheat flour though I must admit I’m not much of a cook, pancakes and brownies are about my limit,  so I haven’t been very adventurous, but I have heard reports that it will make a decent loaf of bread and pasta etc
Ever thought about selling the quinoa greens?
Yes!  I’m considering it this year. The baby leaves are very pretty and have a peppery taste a bit like rocket. The only problem is the second they are cut they wilt before your eyes so it’s finding a way of keeping them fresh during transport and storage. Watch this space…
And finally… If the queen was coming around for lunch, what would you make her?
Gosh, that’s a tricky one as I totally imagine the Queen being a meat and three veg kind of a lady. However, I love this herby quinoa salad recipe http://www.bathfarmgirls.com/herby-quinoa-salad which is so fresh, zesty and full of flavour I defy anyone not to be mildly impressed. I’d also bake her my quinoa chocolate brownies because, frankly, who doesn’t like chocolate brownie?!



Quinoa is very good for you, its been fascinating learning about this from Emily and from Dr Ali Khavandi from Cardiologists kitchen. From my point of view, its tasty and versatile… So get out there and eat more!

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