Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Food: Quinoa

So like a zillion other people, I made a New Year's resolution to eat better. In my case, I want to cut back on processed foods and eat more real foods (and with Hostess going out of business, my resolution is already slightly easier).

Recently, I purchased some quinoa. I had read it was a yummy grain. Now "read" is a key word here, because if I had "heard" quinoa pronounced, I probably wouldn't keep mispronouncing it. You see, this is an ideal spelling bee word in the final challenge round, because it's pronounced "keen-wah." And for the life of me, I can not remember that pronunciation. So I keep mispronouncing it, but fortunately there aren't too many "keen-wah" snobs out in this neck of the woods. Ahem, I mean isolated desert valley.

Anyways, I found a recipe for quinoa and made it last night. And I have to say, I really like it. Before I get to the recipe, let me tell you a little more about quinoa. It comes from Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, and Ecuador, up in the high country. It doesn't need much precipitation and it can survive freezing temperatures. As I read this off the package, my husband and I were both thinking--wow, maybe we should grow this in our garden! But then we got to the part that the quinoa seeds have a hard coating of saponins that is difficult to remove. Okay, back to buying it.

It was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago (how did those people get the coating off?). It's high in lysine, calcium, phosphorous, and iron. The Incas considered the grain to be sacred and called it chisaya mama, or "mother of all grains." Then came the dang conquistadores, who scorned that Incan foodstuff and even forbade them to cultivate it and made them plant wheat. Eventually the quinoa came back into favor, and over recent years its popularity has spread. The price of quinoa crops has increased substantially. According to Wikipedia, in 2011 a ton of quinoa cost an average of over $3000, compared to a ton of wheat at $340.

I can understand why it's popular, it's delicious. The salad you see above came from a recipe at 100daysofrealfood. I look forward to eating more of it.

Have you tried quinoa? What recipes do you like?

7 comments:

John Mosley said...

It looks like foraminifera. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foraminiferans

It probably tastes better.

A said...

We love quinoa....some of us with just plain soy sauce, others a bit more adventurously, in salads (The Savory Way cookbook has a really yummy one), etc.

I've got a great memory of being practically starving in Copacabana, Bolivia and ordering some quinoa (while Kevin tried to sleep off altitude sickness). The waiter brought me a HUGE plate piled high with delicious quinoa.

Janille said...

I really like quinoa. I've been getting it from Costco for a few years. I haven't entirely sold the family on it but they will eat it. My latest try is farro... :D

TooeleTwins said...

Love quinoa.
When you're in SLC, stop by Winco and buy it in the bulk aisle. It's much cheaper that way!
Here are some of my fave recipes:

http://theoccasionalchef.blogspot.com/search/label/quinoa

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love quinoa. It is versatile and can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner meal. It is nutty and yummy goodness! My favorite serving is cooked and flavored with cumin and tossed in with beans, corn, peas and whatever else I want! AB

Anonymous said...

"Ethical consumers should be aware poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/16/vegans-stomach-unpalatable-truth-quinoa

Desert Survivor said...

I had heard that the recent popularity of quinoa was causing some trouble. I dug a little deeper and found that the Bolivian government is preparing for the quinoa craze by helping farmers.

http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/bolivia-fights-food-shortages-by-investing-big-bucks-in-non-gmo-seeds.htm

One other thing that will help is the cultivation of quinoa in areas close to consumers:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/11/29/166155875/quinoa-craze-inspires-north-america-to-start-growing-its-own

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