Food as medicine (2) — Quinoa

2014-02-28 11_30_49Quinoa*, a seed which is a native of Colombia and some other South American countries, is one of my favorite foods. Teaching a lunchtime ESL course at a local Van Houtte Café today, I bought myself a soup and a quinoa salad. Noticing this, my student, a Colombian, informed me of an interesting story. He told me that when the Spanish Conquistadors** invaded South America, they found the natives, the Incas and the Chipchas, physically very strong. Believing that their staple diet consisting of quinoa made them this way, the conquistadores burnt as many quinoa crops as they could find. Man’s inhumanity to man is very tragic, but history is full of such stories 🙁

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More on quinoa: Quinoa was important to the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations and is considered a ‘superfood’. It’s protein content is very high (14% by mass), and per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet. Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source complete protein. Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fibre and phosphorous, and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, thus is useful for vegans and the glucose-intolerant. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.

Costco members may be happy to know that Quinoa Salad — yummm! — is one of the pre-prepared foods available there :)!

*Quinoa, pronounced Kinwa, or Keenoa

**Conquistadors were Portuguese or Spanish “conquerors”; they were soldiers, explorers, and adventurers at the service of the Portuguese and the Spanish Empires, who sailed beyond Europe, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Portugal and Spain in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.



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