A few years ago Quinoa was relatively unheard of, but now it’s becoming common place in cafes, kitchens and restaurants across the globe. Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is an incredibly nutritious grain-like seed coming from goosefoot family plant that is native to the highland plains of South-American Andes region. Ancient Incas believed quinoa as “the mother grain” and that eating it would give them a prolonged and healthy life. The crop was once the staple food sources of Incas and South America where it was grown freely and is now becoming common place ingredient all over the world.
Quinoa does not belong to the cereal-class of staple grains. Instead, it is a seed, much similar to amaranth, and legume family plants. Its seeds have less fat content than oil seeds, are high in protein and a perfect replacement for other grains which have a much lower nutritional profile. They are perfect for anyone who wants to stay gluten free and are a delicious addition to your diet.
The quinoa plant reaches about 3-6 feet in height and prefers well-drained, neutral PH and sandy soil. For this reason, it is being cultivated as one of the chief crops under rain-shadow highlands of Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Ecuador since ancient times. At its natural habitat, quinoa begins flowering in July which then develops into edible seeds by the end of August through September. Quinoa seeds measure about two mm in diameter, and have an unusual shape when cooked that look great in salads. It comes in a variety of colours from white, gray, pink to light-brown colors depending upon the cultivar type. Each one has a slightly different taste, white being the most plain in flavour.
Quinoa is high in protein, 14-18 g of protein per 100 g. It contains almost all of the essential amino acids required for the human body at excellent proportions, especially in lysine which is an amino acid hard to obtain in grains like wheat, maize, and rice. It’s a rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, high in B Vitamins, Vitamin A, folate and antioxidants such as lutein and carotene. It is also an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.
Wow...truly a marvelous superfood! What doesn’t it do?
Quinoa flour is ground quinoa and perfect for gluten free baking. You can use it in pancakes, pizza crust, baking bread and muffins. You can substitute this flour for half of the all-purpose flour in many recipes, or completely replace wheat flour in cakes and cookie recipes. Quinoa flour imparts its unique, nutty yet earthy flavor to your favorite baked goods. It works well with fruits, nuts, spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and coriander, as well as herbs like rosemary. So get your bake on and make something delicious today!