Quinoa – Food For Warriors

Quinoa, once the sustenance of INCA warriors has made the incredible journey onto the shelves of health food shops across the land. It is believed that Quinoa first started to be cultivated over 5000 years ago in the mountains of Bolivia and was the staple diet of INCA warriors who would feast on this nutritious food while preparing for battle. Armed with their weapons and sufficient energy from Quinoa’s slow release carbohydrate the INCA’s would embark on long marches and go into battle safe in the knowledge that the Quinoa grain gave them strength and energy.

A highly durable and resilient crop, Quinoa thrived in these arid high altitude regions but was nearly wiped out during the 1500 by a Spanish explorer by the name of Francisco Pizarro. Quinoa was considered to be a scared food of the INCA people and Francisco believed that if he destroyed the Quinoa plant he could weaken the culture of the INCA. He was unsuccessful and 5000 years on Quinoa is available on the shelves of most supermarkets.

Contrary to popular belief Quinoa  is not actually a cereal grain, but in fact a seed. Quinoa is referred  to as Quinoa grain or pseudo-cereal which is the term given to foods that are cooked and eaten like grains and have similar nutritional profiles to grains. Surprisingly the Quinoa grain is closely related to leafy vegetables like beets, swiss chard and spinach, and its leaves can be eaten as well as the seeds. Quinoa is often misspelt ‘kinoa’ and mispronounced as ‘keenoha’. The correct pronunciation is ‘keenwa’.

Quinoa is a resilient plant that thrives in drought ridden terrain and can grow in poor soils with very little water. This quality has earned it a reputation as a super crop by the United Nations. The plant itself can grow to almost 2 meters and produces colourful seed-heads, most beautiful of the lot is red Quinoa. Each seed-head contains an abundance of the Quinoa grain.

There are many different varieties of Quinoa but the one most commonly found on the shelves of your supermarket or health food shop is the white variety. Black and Red Quinoa seeds are also available in addition you will find Quinoa flour and Quinoa flakes being sold. It is a fabulously versatile ingredient that will complement practically any meal from breakfast cereals, salads, breads and even chocolate cake. So it doesn’t just provide a tasty feast for INCA warriors but will provide the nutrients absent from most modern diets today.

By Papa

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