Good for you; hard to pronounce. That’s about all we knew about quinoa before trying to discover more. Sure, it’s a “Superfood,” but like any beloved superhero, they have a compelling backstory. From the origins of its name to space travel, learn about this mysterious grain (or is it really a grain?!).
Quinoa Means Mother Of All Grain
Its translation comes from the Spanish spelling of “quechua” in the Inca language. Literally, it is “mother of all grain.” Incans considered it to be sacred. But quinoa isn’t really a grain; it is technically a seed. It’s part of the goosefoot family, making it related to beets, spinach… and tumbleweeds?!
Quinoa Pumps You Up With Nutrients
Quinoa’s earned the “superfood” nickname, because of its nutrient-dense attributes. According to the USDA, one cup of cooked quinoa has 2.8 grams of iron, or 15% of your daily recommended intake. That is four times the amount of iron per serving than brown rice. It also has 10 times more folate, a nutrient women have a difficult time finding.
It Can Take The Heat And The Cold
80% of the world’s quinoa is grown in South America, specifically in the areas of Peru and Bolivia. Quinoa is a highly adaptable crop. It can be grown from sea level to an altitude of 4,000 meters, and can withstand temperatures from minus eight to 38-degrees Celsius. If you grew a plant at home, its leaves could make for a nutritious side dish.
Hair Can Benefit From Quinoa, Too!
When you consume quinoa, you’re ‘cleaning’ hair follicles with vegetable protein. Its nine amino acids protect hair shafts, strengthening and even repairing damaged hair. This also reduces dry scalp and dandruff. Thanks to those proteins, split ends are treated and balanced by the natural oil production. Early quinoa farmers have been known to reserve water for later use as a natural shampoo.
Quinoa’s Coating Is A Natural Bird And Pest Repellent
We rinse quinoa in cold water to remove its natural, waxy coating called saponin, which can make it taste bitter. This outer layer acts as a natural pest and bird deterrent. Then cook it as you would rice. Be wary of purchasing products made of quinoa flour, though. They are typically refined and do not possess the same health benefits of consuming whole grain, errrm, seed.
Other Countries Drink Their Quinoa
Chicha is a Central and South American commonly consumed beverage. Typically made of corn, quinoa is also used. Served to visitors and during social gatherings, its taste varies depending on which country you’re in, and whether it’s been fermented (akin to beer) or not. We say don’t question it, and drink up. Cheers!
NASA Has Served Quinoa For Long-Duration Manned Spaceflights
With zero cholesterol and the most nutrients per 100 calories, the gluten-free super seed is a preferred food at Cape Canaveral. The World Health Organization even equates its protein levels to that found in milk. It not only does a body good, but quinoa nourishes astronauts to infinity and beyond!