- In South America they use the saponin removed from the quinoa as detergent for washing clothes.
- The sticky, bitter, soapy film of saponins also keeps birds from eating the quinoa seeds off of the bushes. Scientists decided to create quinoa that didn’t have saponins and guess what? The birds ate it all.
- Stalks of the plant are used in preparing bleach or dyes, and dried stalks are used as fuel.
- “Eat quinoa, food of the 21st century.” These are the words written on the cover of each issue of an Argentinean science magazine called Temas.
I love the light flavor of quinoa. It is easy to digest and is not sticky or heavy like grains, making it a wonderful summer grain-like food.
Tips for Eating or Cooking:
- Always rinse quinoa; place it in a strainer, then run cold water over it until the entire soapy residue has been washed away. You can taste test a few seeds; if they still have a bitter taste, run more cold water over them. Extra removal can be made by rubbing the seeds while rinsing with water. (Read why under: Use and Safety)
- There are three main varieties: light yellow, red, and black.
- Make quinoa porridge for breakfast, add it to your salad at lunch, substitute if for brown rice with your vegetables and make a yummy pudding.
- Use quinoa flour in your gluten-free baking.
- Even the leaves of the quinoa plant are edible; they taste similar to spinach, chard and beets.
- Sprout quinoa; simply soak it in water for 12 hours, then keep it moist in a jar.
- It can even be popped like popcorn and is very popular with Peruvian children.
Please note: Quinoa, though highly nutritious, is actually coated with the toxic chemical saponin; you must rinse it thoroughly. Saponins can be challenging to the immune system and stomach. Commercial processing methods remove much of the bitter soapy saponins coating quinoa seeds, but it is best to rinse again to remove any of the powdery saponins that may remain on the seeds. Like any good foods, we need variety so do not eat it every day. A few times a week is good enough.
Although quinoa is not a commonly allergenic food and does not contain lots of purines, it does contain oxalates. This puts it on the caution list for an oxalate-restricted diet.
- Quinoa was considered sacred by the Incas; they called it the “mother seed.” The Inca civilization in South America grew it in the high altitude of the Andes. It was their staple food for 5,000 years.
- Under Spanish rule, quinoa and other native crops were suppressed and replaced with Old World crops . They almost wiped it our as for a time they made it illegal for the Indians to grow. They did not see how useful it is.
- Finally in the 1980’s two Americans discovered this nutrient-rich food and began growing quinoa in Colorado.
Nutritional Value of 100 grams
Proteins 11.49 grams
Fat 4.86 grams
Carbohydrates 71.2 grams
Calcium 66 milligrams
Iron 8.5 milligrams
Vitamin C 1 gram
Thiamin 0.24 grams
Riboflavin 0.23 grams
Niacin 1.40 grams
Source: Bethzabe Iiguez de Barrios. Mil Delicias de la Quinua. Oruro, Bolivia: (Editora Quelco, 1977), p. 29.
- More than 200,000 pounds are gown each year in the US Rocky Mountains.
- It is the whitest and the sweetest tasting when grown above 12,500 feet. When it is grown at lower elevations, it is more bittersweet in taste.
- It thrives at altitudes of 9,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level and survives on as little as two inches of rainfall.
How to Store:
It is best to store quinoa in an airtight container.
When stored in the refrigerator, it will keep for three to six months.
Here is my favourite quinoa: