from the Andes
(pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient food that is not yet well known
in North America. It has been cultivated in South American Andes since
at least 3,000 B.C. and has been a staple food of millions of native
inhabitants. The ancient Incas called quinoa the "mother grain"
and revered it as sacred. Each year at planting time it was traditional
for the Inca leader to plant the first quinoa seed using a solid gold
shovel! Quinoa was used to sustain Incan armies, which frequently
marched for many days eating a mixture of quinoa and fat, known as
"war balls." Beginning with the Spanish conquest in the
1500s, there was a 400-year decline in the production of quinoa. It
became a minor crop at that time and was grown only by peasants in
remote areas for local consumption.
Chile and Bolivia, quinoa is now widely cultivated for its nutritious
seeds, and they are referred to as "little rice." The seeds
are used in creating various soups and bread, and also fermented with
millet to make a beer-like beverage. A sweetened decoction of the
fruit is used medicinally, as an application for sores and bruises.
Quinoa has been grown outside of South America for a relatively short
time. It is grown in Canada and has been grown in the U.S., in Colorado
since the 1980's by two entrepreneurs who learned of the food from
a Bolivian. They developed test plots in high arid fields in the central
Rockies and began test marketing in 1985. Quinoa can be found in most
natural food stores in the U.S.
quinoa is not a true grain, but is the seed of the Chenopodium or
Goosefoot plant. It is used as a grain and substituted for grains
because of it's cooking characteristics. The name comes from the Greek
words, chen (a goose) and pous (a foot). This is due to a resemblance
of the leaves of the plant to the webbed foot of a goose. The leaves
are lobed or toothed and often triangular in shape. The succulent
like plant grows from 4 to 6 feet high and has many angular branches.
The flower heads are branched and when in seed looks much like millet,
with large clusters of seeds at the end of a stalk. The plant will
grow in a variety of conditions but favors a cool, arid climate and
higher elevations. Beets, spinach, Swiss chard, and lamb's quarters
are all relatives of quinoa.
grains range in color from ivory to pinks, brown to reds, or almost
black depending on the variety. There are over 120 species of Chenopodium,
but only three main varieties are cultivated; one producing very pale
seeds, called the white or sweet variety; a dark red fruited variety
called red quinoa; and a black quinoa. The seeds are similar in size
to millet but are flat with a pointed oval shape and look like a cross
between a sesame seed and millet. Quinoa has a delightful characteristic
that is all it's own: as it cooks, the outer germ around each grain
twists outward forming a little white, spiral tail, which is attached
to the kernel. The grain itself is soft and delicate and the tail
is crunchy which creates and interesting texture combination and pleasant
"crunch" when eating the grain. Quinoa has a fluffy consistency
and a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor that borders on bland.
The leaves of the Goosefoot (quinoa) plant are also edible and make
a pleasant vegetable, like spinach. A quinoa leaf salad is generally
more nutritious that most green salads.
cooking, the seeds must be rinsed to remove their bitter resin-like
coating, which is called saponin. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged
and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use to remove
any of the powdery residue that may remain on the seeds. The presence
of saponin is obvious by the production of a soapy looking "suds"
when the seeds are swished in water. Placing quinoa in a strainer
and rinsing thoroughly with water easily washes the saponin from the
seeds. In South America the saponin which is removed from the quinoa
is used as detergent for washing clothes and as an antiseptic to promote
healing of skin injuries.
seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source
of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost
perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue
development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine
and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a
good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and
cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein
due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of
wheat come close to matching quinoa's protein content, but grains
such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein
of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about
1/2-cup, will provide a childs protein needs for one day. The 6-7%
fat of quinoa is relatively high when compared to other grains, but
it boasts a low sodium content and also provides valuable starch and
fiber. Quinoa also contains albumen, a protein that is found in egg
whites, blood serum, and many plant and animal tissues. The seeds
are gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative
grain for those with gluten sensitivity. Quinoa would be a worthy
addition to anyone's diet, supplying variety as well as good nutrition.
The seed is also excellent feed for birds and poultry and the plant
itself is good forage for cattle.
quinoa is excellent in hot casseroles and soups, stews, in stir-fries,
or cold in salads. The seeds cook very quickly, in only 15 minutes.
Uncooked seeds may be added to soups and stews as you would barley
or rice and quinoa is often substituted for rice in rice dishes. Dry
roasting quinoa in a pan or in the oven, before cooking will give
a toasted flavor, and it can be cooked in fruit juice to add character
to the flavor for use as a breakfast cereal or in desserts. Cold salads
consisting of quinoa and chopped vegetables or cooked beans make a
quick, easy, and nutritious dish. Quinoa flour is used in making pasta
and a variety of baked goods such as pancakes, bread, muffins, and
crackers. Quinoa seeds can be sprouted and eaten as raw, live food
for snacks or in salads and sandwiches. To sprout the seeds, soak
about 1/3 cup seeds in a jar for 2 to 4 hours, then drain and rinse
the seeds twice a day for 2 to 4 days. When the sprouts are about
1 inch long, place them near a window for chlorophyll to develop,
which will give them a vibrant green color. Another fascinating way
of using quinoa is to "pop" the seeds in a dry skillet and
eat them as a dry cereal.
the relatively high oil and fat content of quinoa, the grains and
flour should be stored in glass jars in the refrigerator. Use the
grains within a year and flour within 3 months.
can be found in most health food stores or quinoa, and many other
relatively unknown grains such as teff, can be found at Gold Mine
Natural Foods. Visit their web site by clicking
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley or cilantro
2 sliced green onions
juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime (or 1 - 2 tablespoons of each)
1-1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
1 teaspoon chili sauce (tobasco) (or use a pinch of cayenne, a few
red pepper flakes, etc.)
quinoa and drain. Put in a pot and dry toast until a few grains begin
to pop. Add 1-1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer
for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from
heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
red pepper, parsley and green onion in large bowl. Add cold quinoa
and toss to combine, Whisk together lemon and lime juices, tamari,
garlic and chili sauce. Pour over salad and combine well. Chill until
recipe can be fun. Try throwing in a few fresh raw peas, some fresh
raw corn, fresh sliced raw green beans, etc.
1 small onion
1-1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed in boiling water and drained
1 small red bell pepper, diced
3 cups water
1 tablespoon Tamari soy sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
oven to 350. Heat oil in a medium saucepan; add onion and quinoa.
Sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.
Add red bell pepper and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add
water, soy sauce, rosemary and peas (if using fresh peas).
to a boil and cover; simmer 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, roast walnuts in 350 oven for 5 to 10 minutes. When quinoa
is cooked, turn off heat and mix in walnuts and frozen peas (if using
frozen peas). Let sit an additional 10 minutes and serve.
(January 27, 1999)
Mine Natural Food Company Catalog, "The mother grain of the Incas"
John L. and Ward, Sarah M.
(January 28, 1999)
(January 27, 1999)
(January 27, 1999)
(January 26, 1999)
(January 28, 1999)
Evelyn Whole Food Facts Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1996
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and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
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