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Next week’s ingredient is… LENTILS! Send your recipes to Edwina and Will at email@example.com
Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wa' or 'kin-wah') is native to the upper Andes of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. The botanical name is Chenopodium quinoa and it is commonly known as Goosefoot. Like other members of the Amaranthaceae (Amaranth) family the seeds are harvested as a pseudocereal- true cereals being grasses. It grows on free-draining soil in high altitudes of up to 4000 metres. Quinoa has been cultivated for at least 6000 years in the Andes where it was sacred to the Incas. Other members of the family have been cultivated commercially in North America and Europe and can be cultivated in Australia (although some are considered weeds).
The most surprising feature of quinoa is its high proteing content of 12-18% which is higher than meat. The proteins quinoa produces are a well-balanced mix that is superior to any other grain. It's also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It has a low glycaemic index (GI), is gluten free and high in dietary fibre. With all of these great features it is unsurprising that the Incas called it the 'mother of all grain' and that NASA is considering it as a potential crop for manned space flights in the future.
The only poor feature of quinoa is the saponin content of the seed coat. Saponin is a mildly toxic compound used to form a protective waxy coating over the seed to protect it from predation. It is removed as part of processing before sale.
Wikipedia, quinoa.net, and Rose Elliots book 'Fast, Fresh and Fabulous' were all used in preparing this article. There is heaps more information on the web.