A plant food now extremely fashionable is quinoa, a fake corn with characteristics very similar to those of oats, barley, wheat, corn, millet or rice. It does not belong to the grass family but rather to the same family as spinach and beets.
Quinoa is a highly nutritious food, which is given the name of “super food” and which is used even in astronauts diet.
Native to South America, quinoa is the staple food of the Andean people. The Incas worshiped it as a sacred plant, calling it “the mother of all seeds.” The largest producers of quinoa are Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, but its cultivation is expanding in different areas of the planet, thanks to his extraordinary ability to adapt to different ecosystems and climatic conditions.
It’s a highly nutritious and digestible food, but not extremely caloric (368 kcal per 100 gr). It has a good balance of protein and carbohydrates and is suitable for any type of diet, including the celiac one, because of the total lack of gluten. Quinoa is also rich in fiber and minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, iron, magnesium, and is the only plant food that contains all nine essential amino acids (therefore crucial in vegetarian and vegan diets) in balanced proportions, corrisponding to the recommendations of WHO (World Health Organization). Its protein content is therefore higher than that of most common cereals such as wheat, barley or spelt. It also contains mainly unsaturated fats, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin C and vitamin E.
The main varieties of quinoa are three and are characterized by the color of the beans: red, yellow or black. All three are extremely flexible in the culinary field and marry perfectly with other ingredients in the preparation of sweet and savory dishes.
In practice, it is recommended to rinse quinoa, before cooking it, in order to eliminate the traces of saponins present in the beans. Saponins, which impart a bitter taste to this non-cereal, are substances with irritancy and owe their name to the ability to form foam in contact with water. For this reason, they are used in South America for the preparation of natural detergents for laundry.