Since 2007, the demand for Quinoa in the U.S. has been skyrocketing. Boutique and main street restaurants alike are finding creative ways to get it on the menu, and NASA even sends it to space with the astronauts.
The United Nations brought more recognition to it when it declared 2013 to be “The International Year of Quinoa.”
So what is Quinoa?
Quinoa looks and acts like a grain, but it’s called a pseudocereal, because it’s actually a seed. It grows mainly in the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru, though areas in the U.S. have begun to grow it with more success.
Quinoa is a purple plant that looks like a broom, and when it’s dried, threshed, and processed, a stream of seeds is harvested.
Quinoa seemed to gain popularity out of nowhere, but in truth, it holds a place of historical significance: It was vital to the Incas for nutrition and used in their religious practices.
It has also been around the U.S. for longer than we knew, according to the Washington Post:
“Quinoa went extinct in the United States long before upscale lunch places started putting it in side salads. Agronomists have found evidence of its cultivation in the Mississippi Valley dating back to the first millennium AD, but it faded away after farmers opted for higher-yielding corn, squash, and bean crops.”
Quinoa is rich in protein. In fact, protein accounts for at least 15% of each seed. It is also rich amino acids and high in manganese, so it keeps away headaches. It’s high in fiber, keeps the digestive system healthy, assists with weight loss, and lowers cholesterol. It’s pretty much a miracle food.
There are over 120 types of quinoa. The outer coating can be hard; and, it is recommended that before preparation, quinoa should be rinsed and drained. It works a lot like rice in the cooking process. Most will use 1 ½ parts water to 1 part quinoa. You can even prepare it in a rice cooker. It is also a gluten-free alternative to flour products and comes in cereal or flour.
Experts are still concerned with the high demand and its effects on the populations who grow quinoa, but there’s hope with those who are also experimenting with its growth in the U.S.
Learn more about this amazing food here!