A guide to quinoa

Where did it come from?

Quinoa entered the European diet relatively recently, but this culture was the main ingredient in the Inca diet for 5000 years. Quinoa grew in the Andes, in the modern territories of Bolivia and Peru. The plant was cultivated by pre-Columbian civilizations until the Spaniards arrived in the Americas and replaced it with a cereal. 

Ethical considerations

Due to the growing consumption of quinoa in Western countries, the price of quinoa has skyrocketed. As a result, the Andean people who traditionally grew and consumed quinoa are now unable to afford it, leaving the locals to consume cheaper and more harmful alternatives. For those who don’t want to make this problem worse, it’s better to buy quinoa grown in the UK and other countries.

Nutritional value

The popularity of quinoa among vegetarians is due to its high protein content. Quinoa contains twice the protein of rice and barley and is a good source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, several B vitamins, vitamin E, and dietary fiber, as well as high amounts of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which are helpful in disease prevention and treatment. Compared to regular grains, quinoa is high in monounsaturated fats and low in omega-3s. The UN has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa in recognition of the high nutrient content of this crop.

Various types of quinoa

There are about 120 varieties of quinoa in total, but three varieties are widely used commercially: white, red, and black. Among them, white quinoa is the most common, ideal for beginning lovers of this culture. Varieties of red and black quinoa are typically used to add color and flavor to the dish. 

Do you need to rinse quinoa?

Quinoa has a bitter taste if left unwashed. Saponin is a natural substance found on the surface of quinoa that gives it a soapy and bitter taste. Therefore, quinoa is recommended to be washed. This will also prevent it from sticking together during cooking, as well as give the beans a nice texture.

How to cook?

Usually used as a side dish, quinoa is also a great addition to stews, pastas, or salads. 

The basic rule of thumb is to use 1 cups of water for 2 cup of quinoa. Cooking takes approximately 20 minutes. One cup of dry quinoa makes about 3 cups of cooked quinoa. 

Quinoa is best stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. Under the right storage conditions, quinoa can be stored for several months. 

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