Quinoa: 10 Facts You Need To Know
31 January 2017
To celebrate the launch of Burts Quinoa Crinkles, here’s ten simply superb facts about the miracle ingredient:
- It’s pronounced ‘KEEN-wah’, not ‘kwin-OH-ah’, but we can tell that debate’s got some mileage. After all, you say POT-‘A’-TO, I say PO-‘TAT’-O.
- Quinoa is the seed of the Chenopodium or ‘Goosefoot’ plant, named by someone who clearly had too much time on their hands. Mind you, there are over 100 varieties with equally animal-inspired epithets such as ‘Lamb’s Quarters’ and ‘Pig Weed’. It’s enough to give a plant an identity crisis.
- The ancient Incas, whose ancestors were growing the stuff up to 7000 years ago, called it ‘the mother of all grains’, which only goes to show that pre-Darwinian societies were most probably a bit hazy on the details of species classification. It’s actually not a grain at all and is more closely related to spinach, beets and chard than cereals like wheat and barley.
- Quinoa has been christened as a ‘Superfood’ because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids our body needs, making it a complete protein. It’s high in fibre, magnesium, calcium, Vitamins B and E and it’s even gluten-free. It also contains 4x the amount of iron as an equivalent serving of brown rice and it cooks in less than half the time. Take that rice!
- The health benefits of Quinoa go way beyond vitamins and minerals. It also includes flavonoid anti-oxidants, which have been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-depressant effects. Which is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.
- The United Nations deemed 2013 the International Year of Quinoa and to help celebrate it they launched this catchy song. Mind you, if Andean folk is not your thing, don’t worry. There’s a much funnier one on Youtube by Bentzoin Nerman.
- Any would-be astronaut will tell you, space is hard. Cold, unforgiving, and basically air-less. But in future, long duration missions to Mars we’ll need to use plants to process poisonous carbon dioxide and generate oxygen, so our spacefarers can breathe. And the Goosefoot plant is the ideal candidate according to NASA, who have included it on their short-list of must-have vegetation. All those nutrients will come in handy too!
- As Quinoa has become a favourite of western delis, global sales have shot through the roof, rising over 8oo% in 25 years. That’s been good for the Andean farmers who are the world’s leading exporters. But now everyone with a spare patch of spare land is growing the stuff it’s possible that Peru (the world leader) may lose top spot. It happened before – the potato also started off in Peru.
- It has to be said, the Goosefoot plant is a real looker. Growing up to nine feet high, it has bright magenta stalks with vivid seed-head fronds that come in an array of colours from red, purple, to green and yellow. The most commonly cultivated are red, black and white.
- And finally some people don’t just eat Quinoa. They drink it too. Everything from a healthy breakfast tipple on the streets of Bogata to gluten-free Quinoa beers and smoothies available from your local health food stores and online retailers. And of course now there’s Burts Quinoa Crinkle crisps too!