How to Use Quinoa: Everything You Need to Know

Quinoa was a sacred crop to the Inca who referred to it as the mother of all grain, or chisma amaya. It continues to be sacred for their Quechua and Aymara descendants.
by on Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Your Guide to Quinoa

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Origin & History of Quinoa

High in the Andes mountain, the air is thin and the colors, vivid. The sun is god. The indigenous people of the Andean region have eaten quinoa as a dietary staple for thousands of years. The crop almost disappeared due to colonization and the cultural changes that colonizers forced upon indigenous peoples. However, it remains an important crop of the Andes today. 

Quinoa was a sacred crop to the Inca. Their Quechua and Aymara descendants continue to regard it sacredly. The Inca referred to quinoa as chisma amaya, mother of all grain. Their legend explains how each year the emperor would plant the first seeds during ceremony. 

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Conquistador (colonizer) Francisco Pizzaro, with his desire to destroy Incan culture, nearly succeeded in eliminating quinoa and replacing it with crops that suited his European tastes. However, quinoa managed to survive in remote regions. Now it has global recognition with its superfood and UN supercrop labels. 

Nutrition & Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein, and high in fiber. It is one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

Additionally, quinoa excels in the areas of magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants. Superfood indeed!

But wait, there’s more. The health benefits of quinoa go beyond the vitamins and minerals you may be familiar with. For example, quinoa is high in a couple of flavonoids.  These plant-based antioxidants, quercetin and kaempferol, are molecules that have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and anti-depressant qualities. 

Sounds like we should all load up on the mother of grains! So, what are the best ways to consume it? 

Best Ways to Use Quinoa

Surely by now you have heard of a Buddha Bowl, right? Well, quinoa is a great addition to these nutrition-packed salad and veggie bowls. Just load up a bowl with quinoa and add your favorite veggies and other toppings. Drizzle with the sauce or dressing of your choice and enjoy. 

You can use quinoa with just about any dish that you would eat with rice. It’s great in vegetarian or vegan burger patties, or as a meat substitute in vegan tacos. It is full of protein and flavor. 

The list for fun quinoa dishes is never-ending: quinoa oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, scrambles, salads, soups, sliders, and bowls. Like many grains and nuts, it also makes a healthy, gluten-free, protein-rich flour.

There are tons of fun recipes and ways to experiment with this nutty, hearty seed. 

This rockstar superfood doesn’t quit at healthy dishes and snacks. It has other uses too. The leaves, stems, and grains also have medicinal purposes. They are useful in healing wounds, reducing swelling, soothing pain (toothache), and disinfecting the urinary tract. 

Quinoa, or substances extracted from the plant, is useful in many ways from assisting with bone setting and internal bleeding, to insect repellents and pesticides. The plant even has a variety of properties that offer value to the pharmaceutical industry. 

Quinoa Producers on our Platform

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Mercado Uno 

Mercado Uno is a producer based in fertile Peru that sources quinoa and other traditional Peruvian foods. They offer leading supermarkets, wholesalers, dollar stores, convenience stores, and distributors a wide range of products. Their focus is quality. They remain committed to the highest possible quality from the moment the seeds are planted until customers have the final product in their hands.

Quechuas y Aymaras

Quechuas y Aymaras is a brand named after the people of the land of Peru and Bolivia. Based in the Puno region of Peru, the company is perched at 3,800 meters above sea level on the shores of the highest lake in the world, Lake Titicaca. Quechuas y Aymaras is a second-level cooperative, which affiliates seven sister cooperatives. The co-op has over 700 families dedicated to agricultural production. They work with their partners towards sustainable development, following three pillars of cooperative action: environmental, economic, and social.

Alit Peru

Alit Peru is another Peruvian quinoa producer. They have been cultivating and producing Andean grains for many years. The brand collaborates with small and medium-sized farmers. These farmers collectively cover a range of over 500 hectares of farmland. They also partner with a number of associations and NGOs, all of whom grow grains or support farms that do not use harmful chemicals. Their goal is to raise the quality of food in people’s diets, contributing to their health and well-being. Alit Peru sees that the happiness of their people is reflected in the quality of the products that they offer to the world.

Quinoa isn’t just rich in nutrition, it is rich in culture and tradition. It is historically sacred and currently useful on a global scale. 


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