The first time you look at quinoa, a puzzled look will come across your face. What is this stuff? Most people think it must be a form of pasta and unfortunately cook it they same way they cook pasta. And when they taste it, after it being cooked wrong, they wonder what all the hype was about. A more educated guess might put it in the grain family, since it looks like it could be a midget hybrid of rice but, that too would be wrong.
Although quinoa is mostly grown as a grain, if is almost always harvested for the seeds, which are amazingly nutritious and edible. It is referred to as a pseudo-cereal but that is more for scientists to ponder. It is a fairly close relative of spinach, beets, chard and even the lowly tumbleweed. Not many cooks, however, will want to serve a relative of the tumbleweed at a fancy gathering so that relation is best kept a secret. Quinoa, however should be at every meal since it has a better combination of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber than any of its relatives.
It comes to us from South America. It has long been a regular guest at meals dating back thousands of years. Imagine how hard it is to raise livestock in the Andes mountains but how easily a grass like plant, that has all of the necessary 9 amino acids required for living, would be to grow. The ancient Incas figured out a long time ago that they their people could grow and flourish with this super food. It is only new to the rest of us but, quinoa’s nutritional value has long since been established.
Not only is this seed made of an amazing combination of proteins and nutrients, it has been known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, maintain a healthy digestive tract and even reduce inflammation.
Let’s face it, without a constant bombardment of advertising telling us we need vitamins and minerals, we would be hard pressed to know what they are and that they are needed for a healthy life. Quinoa has a full stacking of the B vitamins as well as a good showing of vitamin E. The minerals necessary to good health, like magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, potassium and lysine are all present in great percentages.
Like so many things in nature, there are many varieties and quinoa is no different. There are roughly 120 known varieties. The most common are the more commercialized strains that are known as white, black and red quinoa. Not only is quinoa made of all the good things a body needs, it can be found in every grocery store. There are thousands of easy recipes for quinoa scattered every where on the internet. Recipes for quinoa range from side dishes, to salads and soups and even for breakfast. Organic quinoa is easily found in grocery stores that tout healthy foods and can also be ordered from trusted sites on the web.