RT Cunningham


Quinoa - What is it and why should I Eat It? Where can I Get It?

quinoa Up until about 2011, I had no idea that something called “quinoa” even existed. I discovered it when I discovered a website called “Cooking Quinoa”. The contents of that website have since been redirected to “Wendy Polisi”, the original author.

The recipes looked delicious and I simply had to know more about it - where can I buy it and how am I supposed to eat it? The Wikipedia article on quinoa, as usual, is overkill.

What is Quinoa?

Apparently, it’s a non-grain that seems like a grain. Grains come from the grass family of vegetation and quinoa doesn’t belong to that family. It’s closer to spinach, but it’s farmed for its seeds. According to Wikipedia:

In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.

Because it’s gluten free, flour made from quinoa seems like a perfect replacement for wheat flour in breads, cakes and muffins.

Where can I buy it?

Because I live in Olongapo City, I have limited choices. As far as I know, without visiting every market in the city, this particular food item isn’t available locally. After doing a quick search, I found that the Healthy Options store carries it. Unfortunately, the closest store is at the SM City Clark mall. Taking a special road trip for something I don’t have experience with is an exercise in foolhardiness.

I had hoped that the SM City Olongapo mall or the Harbor Point mall on Subic Bay, both opened in 2012, would carry health foods in at least one store, but I just checked their websites and they don’t.

How do I eat it?

I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it since I know what website to find Quinoa recipes on. According to multiple sources, you prepare it a certain way, but you eat it like rice. Well, I don’t know about all that – I eat way too much rice as it is.

Regardless, I’m trying to find unique alternatives to the food I always eat. I’ve heard that Quinoa is somewhat flavorless but so is white rice when it’s eaten by itself. I’m not trying to become a vegetarian or a vegan. I’m just looking to increase my natural food choices. The easiest way to cut out the stuff that isn’t any good from my diet is by adding more good stuff to it.

Originally published in June of 2013. Updated for readability and minor error corrections.

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By RT Cunningham
August 29, 2017
Food and Drink