Nowadays everyone have heard, at least once in life, about quinoa. With the advent of particular diets, from vegan to “gluten free”, we have started taking to our tables types of food that was almost unknown until a few years ago. Today we frequently hear about rice cakes, ginger or soy. Obviously yes, also the food market price development follows trends, but if, as is currently the case, the trend is positive for people’s health then all the better. Luckily, at least in Italy, wellness is fashionable these years.
But eating habits aren’t only changing in the culinary art country par excellence. Also in the rest of the world there are signals that lead to think that the importance of a correct diet has been finally understood.
What is quinoa
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is an annual herbaceous plant that belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family. To be clear, we are talking about the same family to whom belongs the beetrot, the chard and the spinach. The plant, native to South America, has been cultivated for over 5000 years and has at least 200 varieties. The seeds are reach of starch, fibres and proteins such as calcium, phosphorus and iron (in larger quantities than cereals). Even leaves can be eaten also if, at least in our country, they are quite hard to find.
The taste is delicate and quite different from pasta or rice. We could say that it recalls the taste of some of its family plants, for example spinach.
The most relevant characteristic of the quinoa is to be gluten free. This makes it precious especially for those suffering from celiac disease, but also for those who want to reduce gluten intake in their diet.
Is quinoa a cereal?
Only a few know that quinoa, even if used as such, is not a cereal, while it could be considered as a pseudocereal. This word, that came into common use, states plants that produce fruits which, once ground, give useful flours for food production. The known pseudocereals are: quinoa, amaranth, chia and buckwheat. Each of them is absolutely gluten free. Each of them is absolutely gluten free.
Does quinoa need to be rinsed?
The usage of rinsing quinoa goes for more. The reason is the presence of saponin. Saponin is a chemical compound that contains a sugary part. The taste of saponins, however, is extremely bitter. Their function, in fact, is to keep out parasites attacks during the cultivation. Saponins have an element which is toxic for human-being. The toxic effect is minumim if the substance is ingested, while is very high if it’s injected. The factories that work the product usually wash it, meaning that they submit the product to a process of removal of the superficial layer that contains saponines. Accordingly, it is not necessary to rinse it before use, although web informations often say the opposite.
Some receipts below:
- Quinoa with tofu and vegetables
- Quinoa burger, zucchini and chickpea flour
- Mediterrean quinoa with pesto, dried tomatoes and olives