What is Quinoa?
Are you new to cooking quinoa? If it is something that you have never heard of before, you may be asking yourself just what is quinoa and why are you hearing about it all the time? While many of you around here know all about quinoa, today I thought I would share some basic information with those who are new to quinoa.
Quinoa is often referred to as an ancient grain (sometimes it is called quinoa grain), but it is not actually a grain at all. Rather, it is a seed that is a relative to spinach and chard. Quinoa leaves are actually edible like the seed and I have been told that they are quite delicious. However, it is only the seeds that are commercially available at the present time. It is gluten free and considered to be an ideal food for those who have food allergies.
For over 5,000 years quinoa has been cultivated in South America. It was a staple food of the Incas along with corn and potatoes. Often referred to as the “mother grain” or “mother of all grains”, many have attributed the strength of the Incan armies to the fact that they marched with war balls made up of quinoa and fats. Quinoa fell out of popularity when the Spanish rule began because the Spaniards preferred rice. They burned the quinoa fields in an effort to make the Incas weaker.
Enter Clean Eating and the Healthy Eating Revolution
In the last decade, the popularity of quinoa has skyrocketed thanks to the healthy eating revolution. As we are all more interested in our health we have come to learn the importance of clean eating and are looking to incorporate more super foods into our diet. The increased popularity has caused the price of quinoa to increase seven fold since the year 2000. The economy in some South American countries, such as in Bolivia, has been widely impacted by this surge in popularity.
Quinoa nutrition facts are indeed quite impressive. A one cup serving of quinoa has 220 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. The carbohydrate content is low-glycemic making it an ideal food for diabetics and anyone trying to stay away from high-glycemic white carbohydrates. What makes quinoa truly unique is the fact that it has all of the amino acids needed for health. It is not often that you find a complete protein in a plant based food! According to the World Health Organization, the quality of protein in quinoa is equal to that found in dehydrated whole milk. A great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, quinoa is a super food that you should try!