All you want to know about Quinoa

all you want to know about Quinoa

What is quinoa?

How do you cook Quinoa. The high-protein, gluten-free food. And how do you pronounce it?

It’s high in protein, gluten-free and incredibly versatile. But what exactly is quinoa, why should you eat it, and how do you cook it?
Even if you have never eaten it, it’s very likely that you’ll have come across quinoa in supermarket or on a restaurant menu. A healthy substitute for rice or couscous, it’s become popular enough to warrant the UN naming 2013 ‘International Quinoa Year’.
 
So, what exactly is quinoa, why is it good for you, and what can you do with it?

 

What exactly is quinoa and how do you pronounce it?

Pronounced ‘keen-wah’, the part that we eat is

the seeds from the flowering plant chenopodium quinoa, which originated in the Andean regions of South America and has been farmed for food for at least three millennia.

Although it looks similar, and is used as a substitute for, rice and couscous, it’s actually a closer relation of beetroot, chard and spinach. Unprocessed quinoa seeds are naturally bitter, which has the benefit of deterring birds from eating them while they are growing.

Why is quinoa considered healthy?

Firstly, it is a ‘complete protein’, containing all nine amino acids, and has twice the protein content of rice or barley. Additionally, it’s gluten and cholesterol-free, and is a source of calcium, manganese, dietary fiber, iron, zinc and magnesium. It’s also very easy to digest.

How do I cook quinoa?

It can be prepared much like rice. It might need soaking first. Check instructions on the packet. Then boil two cups of water for every cup of the seeds, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. As the seeds cook, they open up and release small white curls of grain. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 4 minutes. Then fluff up with a fork.
 

How is quinoa eaten?

After cooking, quinoa should be fluffy but still have a slight ‘crunch’ to it. It has a mildly nutty flavor. It can be used as a substitute cereal. In a salad mixed with leaves or vegetables. As a side dish seasoned with salt, pepper and butter or oil. Or as a rice-like accompaniment to stews, stir-fries or curries. It can also be utilized in the making of vegetarian burgers. Or even as a baking grain to make bread or muffins.

Foodsecurity Quinoa genome accelerates solutions

Quinoa

Research.

An international team of scientists, including quinoa breeding experts from Wageningen University & Research, published the complete DNA sequence of quinoa. Quinoa is the food crop that is conquering the world (Nature magazine on 8 February 2017). Quinoa is rich in essential amino acids and nutritional fibres. It does not contain gluten. The crop is important to farmers as it provides a reasonable yield. Even on poor soils. The new knowledge about quinoa DNA is already being used by breeders who are developing quinoa varieties. These grow well in saline soil and still meet the taste requirements of consumers.

DNA
The scientists determined the sequence of the DNA-building blocks of the entire quinoa genome. The total length of the DNA, the ‘genome’, consists over a little over 1.3 billion DNA building blocks (the nucleotides A, C, G or T), divided over 18 chromosomes. Printed on paper this would add up to over 500,000 pages of text.

To map the DNA building blocks, the scientists used a smart combination of various DNA sequencing techniques. While this enabled them to put together ever-larger DNA segments in the computer from the huge amount of DNA information available, it did not lead to the 18 segments which represent the 18 chromosomes. The scientists therefore applied genetic maps that were made by crossbreeding plants to determine how molecular markers were inherited by the offspring. This allowed them to place most of the DNA on 18 large DNA-strains, representing the quinoa chromosomes.

Robert van Loo, expert in quinoa breeding at Wageningen University & Research. He says it was this combination that allowed the scientists to clearly map the DNA. “We were able to determine the location on the chromosome of no less than 85% of the DNA-sequence. This is a major benefit for plant breeders.”

 
Provided by: Wageningen University search and more info website
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Quinoa’s genetic secrets revealed

Quinoa, the sacred “mother grain” of the ancient Inca civilisation suppressed by Spanish conquistadors, could become an increasingly important food source in the future thanks to genetic secrets revealed in a new study.

Scientists said they have mapped the genome of quinoa and identified a gene that could be manipulated to get rid of the grain’s natural bitter taste and pave the way for more widespread commercial use.

Quinoa already grows well in harsh conditions such as salty and low-quality soil, high elevations and cool temperatures, meaning it can flourish in locales where common cereal crops like wheat and rice may struggle. But the presence of toxic and bitter chemicals called saponins in its seeds has been one of the impediments to extensive cultivation.

Plant scientist Mark Tester of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia said the research pinpointed a gene that guides production of saponins in quinoa. This knowledge could enable breeding of quinoa without saponins, to make the seeds sweeter. Currently, quinoa grain must be processed through washing and drying after harvest to remove saponins.

“Quinoa is currently greatly under-utilised,” said Tester, who led the research published in the journal Nature. “It is highly nutritious, with a high protein content that, importantly, has a very good balance of amino acids, which is unusual for our major grains. It is gluten free and high in vitamins and minerals, too.”

Increased quinoa production could improve food security on a planet with unrelenting human population growth, Tester said. There are potential disadvantages to reducing saponins, perhaps increasing susceptibility to fungal infections or bird predation, Tester added.

Quinoa, which boasts a nutty flavour, can be used the same ways as rice and wheat. It can be cooked and served on its own, turned into pasta, put in soups, eaten as a cereal or fermented to ake beer or chicha, a beverage of the Andes. The crop was sacred to the ancient Incas, who called it “chisoya mama,” or the “mother grain.”

 

Quinoa , a super healthy food

White Quinoa in hand

Quinoa contains the plant compounds quercetin and kaempferol
The health effects of real foods go way beyond the vitamins and minerals we’re all familiar with.
There are thousands of trace nutrients in there, some of which are extremely healthy.
This includes interesting molecules called flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial effects on health.
Two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied are quercetin and kaempferol, and they happen to be found in large amounts in quinoa .
In fact, the quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries.
These important molecules have been shown to have                         anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies .
By including quinoa in your diet, you will significantly increase your total intake of these (and other) important nutrients.

Bottom Line: It contains large amounts of flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol. These are potent plant antioxidants with numerous health benefits.
MoroccoQuinoa® and MarocQuinoa® are supplied by           Domaine Lion Agriculture Sarl to the Moroccan special food shops and to the more Western orientated Restaurants in Morocco.