Sub white rice with quinoa, and you get a super fragrant dish that’s brimming with nutrients. By Estelle Low
Home-cooked quinoa fried rice. Photo: The Lunchbox Movement
Among the grains, quinoa has one of the highest protein and fibre content. It’s also rich in magnesium and manganese, minerals that help keep our systems chugging.
Plus, quinoa is wheat-free, making it the best thing ever for people with gluten intolerance. No wonder it’s been long hailed as a superfood.
It’s too bad that, in a nation that relies heavily on eating out, quinoa is still not an easily available option. Unless you order from a wholesome café or salad bar, you’re unlikely to land yourself a quinoa dish. (Also read: 5 Best Quinoa Dishes to Try in Singapore)
The obvious solution: Make your own.
To encourage more students and working adults to prepare home-cooked meals, a group of Nanyang Technological University students devised a series of recipes via a campaign called The Lunchbox Movement. One of them includes quinoa fried rice (scroll down for recipe).
In a survey conducted last October, they found that more than half of university students and working adults have lunch at hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops four to seven times a week.
“You can find a lot of processed food when you eat out and some processed food can be carcinogenic. Outside food also contains a high level of trans fat which can increase cardiovascular risk,” says Dr Matthew Lee, senior resident in the clinical services department at Alexandra Health.
Dr Lee adds: “Another issue with outside food is that it tends to be unbalanced in nutritional value. The cheap hawker food tends to have high level of carbohydrates with minimal amount of protein and fibre.
“When you prepare your own meals, you have control over what you eat. Apart from making sure you get a balanced diet and adequate intake of different nutritional requirements, you can control the amount of sugar and salt in your meals, as well as avoid consumption of trans fat or processed food.”
This quinoa fried rice recipe doesn’t require fancy ingredients, and is fuss-free to prepare. It’s definitely healthier than a hawker centre fried rice dish, as it uses minimal fat and seasoning. At the same time, quinoa lends a nutty fragrance that you won’t get from white rice.
Recipe: Quinoa Fried Rice
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients for quinoa fried rice. Image: The Lunchbox Movement
- 550g cooked quinoa
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 to 4 tbsp soya sauce
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 carrots
- 200g prawns
- 150g bean sprouts
- 1 onion
- 100g leek
- ½ cucumber
- 1 egg (optional)
- Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, chop garlic, carrots, onions and leek. Heat up oil in large skillet and fry garlic. Once garlic turns golden, add in carrots and onions. Stir-fry for around 1 minute, or until carrots are bright orange. Add in prawns and bean sprouts.
- Throw in cooked quinoa and stir-fry for 2 to 4 minutes, breaking up rice with spatula until it is heated through. Add soya sauce to taste, stir to mix well. If vegetables aren’t soft enough, cover skillet and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Serve with leek sprinkled on top and sliced cucumber on the side. Add a sunny-side up if you’d like.
- For a convenient lunch, pop the rice into the microwave to reheat. Save the remaining portion in the freezer for up to three months.
Nutrient info per serving
412kcal, 20.4g protein, 36.3g carbs, 7.1g sugar, 5.9g fibre, 18.4g fat (2.8g saturated), 1355mg sodium
Nutrient information is provided by Ms Marjorelee Colega from NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.
For more quick and healthy recipes, visit thelunchboxmovement.tumblr.com.