You've probably been at a potluck recently where at least one person brought a quinoa salad. Or maybe you spotted it on a restaurant menu and wondered, "What is that stuff?"
There's good reason you've been hearing more about this ancient grain, and why it's enjoying a bit of come back after first being domesticated three or four thousand years ago in South America.
Here's a quick look at what you need to know about quinoa.
1. It's not really a grain.
While quinoa can be used in almost any way you'd use more commonly known grains like wheat, it's actually not a grain. It's technically classified as a pseudocereal because the plant is not from the grass family like rye, barley, oats and other grains you've grown up eating.
Instead, quinoa is a chenopod, making it more closely related to spinach and beets than true cereal grains. That means its essential amino acid profile is far more ideal for human consumption than regular grains. It's also why the Incas held quinoa sacred.
2. It's high in protein, fibre and iron.
Quinoa makes for a super valuable addition to the human diet because it is so high in protein – something like 14 per cent of quinoa's composition is protein. It's also an amazing source of fibre, and it's high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.
3. It's easy on the tummy.
One of the great things about quinoa is that it's easy to digest. Quinoa is gluten-free, making it invaluable not only for the growing number of people who suffer from Celiac disease or other intolerances to gluten, but for the legions of us who are learning more about the benefits of varying the grains in our diets.
If you're looking for an easy way to get a little quinoa in your diet, check out Wise Bites cookies, muffins and bars. Or pick up a package of quinoa flour and start adapting some of your own favourite recipes.