Incan tribes in the Andes Mountains of South America knew they had something special. They considered quinoa to be sacred and referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” They held ritual planting ceremonies in which the emperor sowed the first seeds of the season using golden implements. They believed quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) gave their soldiers extra strength and stamina on the battlefield.
But the Spanish conquistadors came along put a stop to this “food for Indians.” They forbade cultivation and forced the Incas to grow wheat.
Fast forward a few thousand years and here we are: Wheat has been a major factor in bringing about city-based societies since the start of civilization. We’ve used wheat to create an endless list of foods and beverages.
Crackers, bread, pastries, cereal, sauces, fillers, and chips — you name it — wheat is hard to avoid. What’s that they say about too much of a good thing?
We get used to feeling the way we feel and sometimes it’s hard to identify the symptoms or reasons we should avoid wheat. But digestive disorders, bloating, gas, fatigue, joint pain, allergies and gluten sensitivity are more common now than ever. These are all good indications that maybe we have had too much of that “good thing.”
Enter the new kid on the block, quinoa. Actually, if the Incas knew about him, he’s not that new. Quinoa is a super-food and great replacement for wheat if you’re having any of the above symptoms. It contains a balanced set of amino acids, making it a complete protein. High in minerals and fiber, it’s gluten-free and easy to digest. In its natural state it has a slight bitterness that birds don’t like, so it requires minimal protection.
With its nutty flavor and fluffy texture, quinoa can be cooked much like rice—bring two cups of water or chicken broth to a boil and add one cup of quinoa. Most boxed quinoa has already been rinsed and requires a brief rinsing before cooking. Season with salt, pepper and other favorite spices and herbs.
Your favorite pasta dishes can be prepared with quinoa pasta. The texture and flavor is very similar to regular pasta made from refined, bleached, nutrient stripped flour.
Whether cooked pasta or a fluffy grain side dish, it’s a great way to replace heavy, calorie-dense starches for high nutrient content.
Now that the Inca emperor is not around to encourage us to eat this super grain by waving gold over the fields, we’ll have to listen to a different wake-up call — the one provided by our body.
I’ll see you in two weeks.
Love & health,