What is quinoa? It’s a question I don’t often get (hopefully because you’ve visited this page before), but I feel like I should take some time to explain since it’s the focus of all of my recipes.
First I want to start with the history – we’ll get into the nutrition and cooking parts in a moment. I’m going to take you on a quick journey to South America to start the quinoa story…
Quinoa, which was referred to as the chisaya mama or “mother of all grains” by ancient Incan societies, is the healthy little grain-like plant that has become the center of my gluten-free diet. Although often times referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually not a grain and is really a seed and is the same family as beets and spinach.
(You’re first clue right there that quinoa is a superfood!)
Quinoa hails from the Peruvian Andes where it was loved and cherished by the Incas over 5,000 years ago. The crop was sacred and even considered the “gold” of their society. When the Spanish arrived, everything changed. They looked down on quinoa as “the Indian’s food” and suppressed the cultivation of the crop. It has been shown that the conquerors actually forbid the planting of quinoa and forced the Inca to grow wheat instead. Kind of funny for those of us on a gluten-free diet, isn’t it?
But that’s all ancient history. Quinoa has overcome the obstacles and made its way onto millions of plates across the world (at least I hope that much!). Although it may not be mainstream yet, quinoa’s popularity is growing, and more and more people are realizing the amazingness it brings to life.
How amazing you may ask? Visit my quinoa nutrition page!
image source: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times