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Quinoa Seeds: All you need to know about the “mother of all seeds”

Quinoa seeds are small but they have a big heart. Here is all you need to know about this super-grain.

  • What is quinoa?
  • Quinoa nutritional values
  • Origin of quinoa
  • Quinoa seeds
  • From field to table
  • Quinoa benefits
  • How to cook quinoa

Is Quinoa a Cereal?

Quinoa is commonly thought of as belonging to the corn family but, this is not true. The quinoa plant belongs to the same family as spinach and beetroots. But why and how did it pick up its “pseudo-cereal” reputation? Well because Quinoa has very similar nutritional profile to other cereals and it can be used as flour in the production of pasta, bread, cookies or cakes.

Quinoa: Nutrition

Did you know that quinoa has properties that are not present in many of the other common cereals? The core macro and micronutrients are proteins, vitamins, mineral salts, essential amino acids, iron and magnesium. There are many types of quinoa, while each one has this core, they vary slightly on the different nutrients they contain.

Origin of quinoa: the adventures of the small cereal. A brief history of quinoa, from sacred Inca food to nowadays

Quinoa is a South American plant that has been grown and cultivated in the Andes for over 3,000 years. The biggest producers of quinoa were Bolivia, Chile and Peru, where it was called “chisaya mama”, literally translating to “mother of all seeds.” Every year as a ritual, the emperors of these ancient empires, would plant the first quinoa seed. It was believed that it was sent to the people directly from the gods and with quinoa’s exceptional nutritional contents, we believe it too.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, quinoa was pushed out of the spot light and fell out of favor, perhaps because religious reasons or because of war. The Spaniards, introduced corn to the local agriculture and consequently transformed this pseudo-cereal into a forgotten food.

Quinoa reappeared in the 80’s in Colorado, where some farmers had decided to try to cultivate it.

In the recent years, quinoa has become widely known and popular. It is nowadays considered a complete, versatile, nutritious and tasty healthy food.

Quinoa seeds: a rainbow of colors

Did you know that there are more than 200 varieties of quinoa? And that before the plant is harvested, a single plant can have a wide variety of quinoa seed colors, like a rainbow. It goes from red to yellow, from purple to green.

The quinoa seeds are classified in the same way. Although the most widely used variety is white or yellow, there are also red and black versions. Different colors are associated with different cultivation sites and may therefore have some differences in terms of properties and nutritional values.

Quinoa properties. Adaptable and nutritious, the quinoa plant is the food of the future

 The quinoa plant grows fast, it does not require special attention and it easily adapts to different climates and environments. It is primarily cultivated in South America, Peru and Bolivia but due to the recent demand, other countries in North America and Europe are also joining in producing.

Here are some quinoa’s peculiarities and necessities when it comes to successful cultivation:

  • It does not need particularly fertile soils
  • It suits to different climates. The important thing is that it does not undergo frost during flowering periods because the plant would be damaged
  • It prefers a slightly sandy, well-drained soil because it suffers in case of excessive humidity conditions
  • It can grow in high salinity soils
  • It resistant to drought
  • It needs a lot of light; needs to be planted in the sun

Quinoa begins sprouting only 4 or 5 days after planting, and then it usually takes another 160 or 180 days to fully grow before being harvested.

The Quinoa plant, like any other plant, has specific growing requirements but, as mentioned previously, it is uniquely adaptable at the same time. It is so adaptable that the FAO considers it the fundamental resource for the livelihood of the Third World population. In 2013 the FAO also declared it the “International Quinoa Year” to raise awareness around the globe to this pseudo-cereal.

The benefits of quinoa

Quinoa is the definition of a true super food, it contains essential amino acids, it is rich in mineral salts and has a high content of protein, micronutrients and vitamins. All of these nutrients have positive impact and contribute to the overall health and well-being of our body.

Let’s see them in detail.

 It is very nutritious

Over half of a seed is made up of carbohydrates. They are a safe source of energy!

Quinoa is rich in magnesium

Thanks to the high level of magnesium, quinoa helps maintain a normal and healthy metabolism. Magnesium is also very important for some essential metabolic processes such as the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle pulses.

Quinoa is gluten-Free

Quinoa is a perfect food even for those who suffer from celiac disease or are intolerant to gluten!

It helps protect the body

Quinoa is rich in flavonoids, natural antioxidants that help protect our body

It is easy to introduce into your diet

Quinoa is gluten-free, versatile and easy to cook. If boiled, it only takes 20 minutes to cook and it goes well with lots of different foods.

Here is how to bring all the quinoa benefits to the kitchen.

Quinoa cooking: many ways to nourish your health. Culinary and alternative uses of this pseudo-cereal

How to cook quinoa? Quinoa can be used in many ways in the kitchen but it also has many other alternative uses. Here is something you may not know: seeds are not the only edible part of the quinoa plant. Its leaves can be eaten like spinach or beetroots.

Are you interested in cooking quinoa?

One important thing to do before cooking them is to rinse them or soak them in water for some hours.

Once cooked, the quinoa seeds go great with vegetables and legumes but it can also be used as a base for croquettes, vegetable burgers or as filling for vegetables.

In the supermarket, you can also find quinoa blown. It is perfect to enrich the quinoa bread.

Quinoa sprouts can be used in soups and omelets. And/Or you can buy quinoa flower to make delicious gluten free foods.

Quinoa doesn’t just have to be used in the kitchen! Here are some alternative uses of quinoa that you may not know.

  • The whole plant is also used as animal feed because it is nutritious and rich in protein and minerals;
  • Saponins naturally present in quinoa seeds before being washed are used in South America for the preparation of natural detergents;
  • Quinoa stems are used to obtain a dye for cloths;

Now, you can see how versatile the quinoa plant is!

The history of this little seed is very long. Quinoa has been for millennia the basis of the Andean people and, fortunately, today comes to our tables.

How do you use quinoa? Leave us your ideas and let us know!


Baking with Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts have so many nutritional properties, that our body’s need and love. They are rich in magnesium, vitamin E, healthy fats and mineral salts: real goodness for you and your hazelnut cakes.

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