Did you know the Incas loved not only gold bars as a metal, but also loved a golden grain? Actually, it's not a true grain, but a seed classified in the pseudocereal family. Quinoa (keen wah) is the seed of the goosefoot plant and is very rich in nutrients. The Incas have used this food in their diet for more than 6,000 years.
Quinoa is grown in the high altitudes of the AndesMountains. It is also being grown in Canada and the United States, but most quinoais imported from Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It can only be grown at high elevations.
The Incas valued quinoa second only to the potato for nutrition. Spanish explorers and colonists destroyed the quinoa crops and forced the Incas to stop growing it. It was kept alive by isolated farmers throughout the last few centuries and slowly grew back to popularity. In the 1980's, two farmers from Colorado learned about quinoa from a Bolivian and began experimenting with it.
Quinoa is an important addition to the diet of those who have trouble digesting grains. Quinoa is gluten free and easy to digest. It is high in protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids, thereby classifying it as a complete protein. Vegans and vegetarians will enjoy adding this grain to many recipes. It is rich in manganese, magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper and phosphorus. It has many of the B vitamins as well.
This super grain package of nutrition is a must for those that suffer from migraine headaches, cardiovascular problems and diabetes. In fact, quinoa was a staple food in the diet of Inca warriors to increase their stamina and endurance. And it tastes wonderful. It has a nutty earthy flavor that can border on bland, so it combines very well in other dishes like casseroles or as a breakfast cereal with honey and fruit.
How to prepare quinoa:
Just run cool water over the seed to rinse off the saponin coating. Saponin is a soapy bitter compound that protects the seed from birds and insects. Then cook and use as you would with rice. A basic recipe is 1 part quinoa to 2 parts broth or water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
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