Quinoa

I have to admit that quinoa is my favorite of all Peruvian superfood. Quinoa tastes good (it has an earthy, nutty taste), is healthy (its nutritional contents are higher than alternatives such as rice, couscous or pasta, while its protein content is the same as in milk), is quite versatile (it is good for everything from a quick breakfast cereal to a gourmet dinner) and on top of all that it can be prepared in a heartbeat (it takes about 15 minutes, a great advantage for a working mom like me).

There is no doubt why my wise ancestors, the Incas, called quinoa “the mother of all grains” and recognized it as an strategic crop, just as important as corn and potatoes. I may have to correct my ancestors in its definition, though, as quinoa is actually not a grain but a plant related to spinach and beet. What we eat are actually the seeds of quinoa. Anyways, they were spot on when they recognized its importance for the nutrition of their vast empire!

Quinoa was domesticated and cultivated for 5800 years ago in the Andes mountains of Peru and has many varieties and colors (white, red and black are the most known) and their properties vary from one to the other. The most famous version is the one we call “real” in Peru, which is beige / light brown.

The name Quinoa (Quinua) comes from Quechua, which is the second official language of Peru. Since I mention quechua, allow me a brief digression: this language was a commercial language in America when the Incas were an empire; Quechua was actively used from Central America down to Chile and had many dialects when the Spaniards came to South America. You can compare Quechua at that time to what English means for us now.

Back to the amazing quinua. This super food has exceptional nutritional value, with lots of carbohydrates, proteins, and all the nine essential amino acids we humans need. Zero cholesterol, gluten free, rich in fiber and much more.

 

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