Quinoa (pronounced 'KEE-nwah') has been cultivated in Peru, Chile and Bolivia for over 5000 years, and was the staple food of the Incas, who considered it sacred. In an attempt to control and destroy the population and its culture, the invading Spanish conquerors banned the cultivation and use of quinoa. Fortunately it didn’t completely disappear; people started rediscovering this nutritious grain in the 1980s, and it continues to become more popular as its benefits are realized.
Quinoa has a mildly nutty delicious taste, and is the seed of a plant with edible leaves related to leafy vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard and beets. Although it is treated like other cereal grass grains like wheat, rice and corn, it is not a grain, but rather is usually classified as a 'pseudocereal.'
It is a great gluten free source of manganese, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), iron, copper, phosphorus, making it a valuable grain for those with migraines, diabetes or atherosclerosis. It is not only high in protein, but supplies a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids, including lysine, essential for tissue growth and repair.