Quinoa (pronounced kee-noir) might be the fashionable grain that's taken the UK by storm, but it is actually native to South America, particularly Bolivia and Peru.

Although used as a grain, it is technically a seed of the goosefoot family and related to spinach and chard.

It is sold as whole grains, ground into flour, and processed into noodles and is particularly popular with people on restricted diets as it is a valuable protein-rich and gluten-free alternative to traditional cereal grains such as wheat.

The flavour is naturally bitter and the grains should be put in a fine sieve and rinsed thoroughly before cooking.

Quinoa just needs boiling in water, stock or fruit juice and cooks in just 12-15 minutes - you know it is done when the rings around the centre of the grain detach themselves.

Use quinoa in place of rice as a side dish, in pilafs, stuffings or salads. The flour is good for pancakes and pastries, if you enjoy its astringent taste.