Quinoa (Chenopodium Quinoa Willdenow) is a small, semi-flattened round grain that is colored yellowish-white (white quinoa), yellow (yellow quinoa), red (red quinoa) or black (black quinoa), rich in proteins and carbohydrates and has an excellent balance of amino acids.
Quinoa is considered one of the Andean grains that is richest in protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free product, and contains all the essential amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The concentration of lysine in the protein of quinoa is almost twice that of other cereals and pulses.
Its mineral content - which includes phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and other minerals – is higher than cereals and pulses. It is cholesterol free, easily digestible and has an important source of protein, with an average content between 10% and 16%, depending on the variety you choose, and can reach as high as 23%, making it comparable to other high-protein foods such as meat, milk and eggs. It is also a product rich in fiber, and its nutrient composition is superior to common cereals.
Chocolate Quinoa Balls
Quinoa originated in the region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia, where it was domesticated for human consumption about 3,000 years ago. Quinoa was an important staple in the early Andean cultures. The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to it as chisaya mama or "mother of all grains," and the Inca emperor would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season.
During the Spanish conquest of South America, the colonists suppressed its cultivation because of its status in indigenous religious ceremonies. The conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation for a time, and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.
Following its harvest, Quinoa is processed to remove the coating, which contains bitter-tasting saponins. Quinoa is usually cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.
Quinoa has become increasingly popular in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, China and Japan, where it is not widely cultivated.