Quinoa is member of a species of perennial, herbaceous flowering plants known as goosefoot. Harvested for its seeds, it is classed as a pseudocereal due to the fact that it is not a true grass, or grain, as with wheat.The plant itself is more closely related to beet, spinach, and tumbleweed.
The Incas held Chisaya Mama (mother of all grains) to be a sacred crop until the Spanish Conquistadors landed and forced them to grow wheat. The Christian invaders claimed that the tiny seeds were suitable only as fodder for animals and savages, and worked to suppress the religious harvest ceremonies associated with it.
Today, quinoa has seen a renaissance in the world of healthy eating as a "super grain." Quinoa is gluten free and is an excellent source of protein, folate, vitamin B6, and arganine, all of which have been shown in studies to be essential to mental health and proper nutrition in children. Individuals with attention deficit disorder have also been shown to benefit from increased intake of B complex vitamins and L-arganine.
In my next post I'll be showing how to cook and serve this "wonder grain," so check back often!