28 Oct 2008

The seeds of Gods: Quinoa

The seed of Gods

The grains of amaranth and quinoa are one of the primary meal sources to the American Indians of South America

It was one of the most sacred foods of the ancient Incas , a plant so nourishing, delicious and vital; they called it in quechua language: chesiya mama; the ‘mother grain’. Each year the Incan emperor so, it is said would, using a golden spade, plant the first quinoa seeds of the season. At the solstice, priests bearing golden vessels filled with quinoa made offerings to Inti; the sun.

Technically quinoa is not in fact a grain, but is the seed of the Chenopod or Goosefoot plant. It is used as a grain and substituted for grains because of it's cooking characteristics. The succulent like plant grows from 4 to 6 feet high and has many angular branches. The flower heads are branched and when in seed looks much like millet, with large clusters of seeds at the end of a stalk. The plant will grow in a variety of conditions but favors a cool, arid climate and higher elevations. Beets, spinach, Swiss chard, and lamb's quarters are all relatives of quinoa.


The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans

Quinoa is one of the best plant sources of protein. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has compared the nutritional quality of quinoa to that of dried whole milk--a high-quality protein.. Quinoa does not contain gluten, so it can be eaten by people who have celiac disease as well as those who are allergic to wheat.

Quinoa's survival through the millennia may be attributed to the resinous, bitter coating that protects its seeds from birds and insects--and also shields them from the intense high-altitude sunlight. This coating, called saponin, is soapy and must be removed in a strong alkaline solution to make the grain palatable. Most quinoa sold in this country has already been cleansed of its saponin. But quinoa should be rinsed thoroughly before cooking to remove any powdery residue of saponin. Place the grain in a fine strainer and hold it under cold running water until the water runs clear; drain well.

Many quinoa recipes taste grainy, especially if you're expecting a rice or couscous-like texture.

One recipe to start your day healthy

Cardamom & Cinnamon -Scented quinoa

Cardamom cinamon scented quinoa

1 cup quinoa

2cups whole milk

2 Tbsp sugar or organic sugar

1 tea spoon powdered cinnamon

1/2 tea spoon powdered cardamom

Wash and drain quinoa seeds.Reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cinnamon and cardamom and let stand a few minutes, util thicken.Serve warm

Here another recipe to end up your day with a healthy dinner

Quinoa risotto and fresh salad

Quinoa risotto & Fresh salad

· 1 cup quinoa

· 1 Tbsp. olive oil

· 1 cup chopped onion

· 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

· 1 cup milk

· ¾ cup Parmesan cheese (greated)

Rinse and drain quinoa three times, using a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter outer coating.

Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring constantly. Add quinoa and continue stirring a minute or two. Stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese and let stand a few minutes, so risotto can thicken. Seve with fresh green salad and boiled vegetables as side dish


Manggy said...

Wow, thanks for two recipes for this surprisingly nutritious grain! I will have to hunt for it, though :)

Peter M said...

Sylvia, I love that you posted sweet and savory quinoa recipes, especially the dessert version as there seems to be fewer of them.

Anonymous said...

You make everything look beautiful, Sylvia! ;)

Laurie said...

I have never had quinoa. It is so good to rad this information. I never new it was considered a whole protein. I always see it at the health food store, but just thought it was too healthy for me. :)
You have made it look delicious to feast on as well!
Great post Sylvia!

Ivy said...

Although I wasn't really excited to try it the first time, I am getting used to it now and it's so healthy that we should insist cooking it. Your recipes sound great. Really tempting! You did a great job here!

Kiriel du Papillon said...

I love the texture of quinoa and find it far superior to rice for making things like rice salad. Thanks for sharing the interesting background on this seed, and lovely recipes!

Anonymous said...

Great recipes.
Mark Bittman did a piece recently on the sweet and savoury applications of Cous Cous.

Similar thing, but yours does it for me more.

Esi said...

I love quinoa, but I haven't had it in porridge version. Thanks for the recipes!

Darius T. Williams said...

I'm loving that risotto - great idea!


lisaiscooking said...

What pretty photos of quinoa!

Lori Lynn said...

I've been meaning to make some quinoa Sylvia, now you have inspired me to do it.
The quinoa look like jewels in your photos.

success4teeninfo said...

Quinoa is one of the best grains that I have ever eaten.Have completely replaced it with rice since it is more nutritious. Thanks for sharing.