The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has designated 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa.
Heralded for its unique nutritional properties and environmental adaptability, the UN is positioning this cereal-like grain as a key player in the global fight against hunger and food insecurity. With its tag line, “Quinoa, a future sewn thousands of years ago”, the UN hopes to promote quinoa as a viable source of nutrients for millions of people.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is indigenous to South America and has been an important part of the continent’s diet, particularly in the Andean highlands, for centuries. The UN is highlighting quinoa’s drought resistance, its ability to grow in poor soils and high salinity, as well as at a range of topographies (from sea level to 4,000 meters) and temperatures (-8 to 38 degrees Celsius, or 18 – 100 degrees F).
Nutritionally, quinoa is that rarest of plant foods that contains all of the essential amino acids, lending to its high protein content. One cup of cooked quinoa has 220 calories, 39 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein and 5 g dietary fiber.
Quinoa is gluten-free and can be used in place of rice, couscous, or other starchy grain. Click here for an excellent Red Quinoa Salad recipe – compliments of Chef Evandro Caregnato of the Brazilian steakhouse restaurants Texas de Brazil.
To learn more about the potentially life-saving benefits of quinoa, download the FAO report “Quinoa: an ancient crop to contribute to world food security“.