Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an ancient grain, or rather, seed, originating from the high altitude regions of the Andean mountains in South America. Originally grown by the Incas in Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru, it was one of the few crops that could withstand the severe cold of winter and the extreme heat and drought of summer. Because of this, the Inca’s called it the “mother of all grains” and held it sacred. When the Spanish invaded the Andes regions in the 16th century, the Incas were forced to stop growing and consuming quinoa, because the Christians believed it to be sacrilegious. But secretly it was kept alive in the wild and a small amount was able to be saved and cultivated through the ages.
It wasn’t until the late 70’s that we began seeing it here in the states, but rarely. Not until five or ten years ago did it begin to be produced commercially and then we began seeing it in abundance. The reason so many people including myself are in love with quinoa is because it’s gluten free, it’s packed with protein (in fact, it is a complete protein), and it’s so simple to make. I knew it became mainstream when brides began requesting it for their wedding receptions several years ago.
A year ago, I discovered something by accident.
(optional- for extra flavor play around and try adding sauted onions, fresh herbs, lemon zest, chili flakes, diced garlic, or even curry powder)
Remember to rinse your quinoa well, otherwise you will end up with very bitter cakes.