Common Name: Quinoa
Botanical Name: Chenopodium quinoa
Quinoa is an herbaceous, flowering annual plant that is grown primarily for its edible seed. It originated from the Andes and has been cultivated for centuries by the Inca people. It has a bitter residue of saponins that are a naturally occurring defence mechanism for the plant, allowing it to ward off insects and birds in the wild.
It is similar to sesame seeds in size and appearance and is considered a pseudo cereal as it is part of the Amaranthaceae family rather than the Poaceae family. Quinoa is usually a light/white coloured grain although it is also available in red, purple and black. Quinoa has a neutral flavour with earthy undertones, making it a blank canvas for almost any dish. This flavour carrier is a magical little grain, packed with nutritional goodness. It contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, so perfect for vegetarians.
Nutritionally quinoa contains:
- High protein
- High carbohydrates, low glycemic index
- High protein to carbohydrate ratio
- Low fat, contains omega-6 polyunsaturated fat
- High in dietary fibre
- Contains manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus and potassium
- Good source of B vitamins and vitamin E
- Contains phytosterols, polyphenols and flavonoids
- Gluten free
Quinoa is a good source of lysine; this amino acid is needed for tissue growth and repair as well as the formation of collagen which is crucial for healthy skin.
Quinoa has many culinary uses and can be commonly used as a rice replacement. It comes as a grain, flour, flakes and in a range of different food products such as breads, cereals, crackers and pasta.
Look out for Wonderfoods Organic Quinoa.