10 Years of Blog Archive

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quinoa, a Super Food Grown in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador

Quinoa, the protein packed grain, some call a cereal, is super nutritious and is a relative of the beetroot, spinach and amaranth and is not really a cereal at all.  It’s easy to grow and tolerates drought conditions, which is one reason why it grows so well in the Ecuador Andes. 

FYI: Quinoa (Quinua) is pronounced (“keen-wah”).

I prepare quinoa a couple times a week because Frank loves the stuff.  It has a different flavor that takes some getting used to but once you find out how nutritive quinoa is for you, you’ll want to love how it tastes too. And because we live in Ecuador we make sure to buy the brands that are grown right here in Ecuador.

Quinoa has been grown in the highlands of the Andes in Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Ecuador for over 4,000 years; ironically only in the last 15-years has it made world-wide attention; today everyone wants to get on the bandwagon and grow quinoa in their back yard or become small quinoa farmers. Why? Because it’s really good for you and the world knows it is really good for you!

As of 2014, Ecuador has about 6000 small quinoa farmers/producers in the provinces of Chimborazo, Bolivar, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Carchi, Pichincha and Imbabura.  Together these farmers produce 7,600 tons of quinoa, exporting 970 tons. The Ecuador Ministry of Agriculture is working on a program to increase production and consumption of Quinoa in Ecuador, which is a good thing because quinoa is becoming a world-wide sensation because of its healthfulness. Undersecretary of Agriculture said, “The big challenge is to exceed 7,000 tons of production that is currently produced and to reach 15,000 tons by 2015".

Preparing Quinoa
Because how it is harvested and the grains being so small, Quinoa can be dirty with small pebbles and bits of sand so you need to wash it well before boiling. The best way I found to clean Quinoa is using a fine mesh strainer but not too fine because you want any sand to escape during rinsing.  Run warm water over the grains, rinsing them well, allowing any small sand particles to get out. 

Quinoa = Quinua
Boil quinoa like you would any grain such as brown rice. I add about a cup or so of water to ½ cup of quinoa to about ½ teaspoon sea salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Once it starts to boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes and it’s ready to eat.  See ways to eat Quinoa below.

Nutrition of Quinoa

Quinoa, being a very healthy grain is loaded with protein, manganese, fiber and numerous other vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is gluten free and is a recommended grain for anyone who is sensitive to eating gluten products. You can eat Quinoa whole after boiling or grind it into flour and bake with it.

According to a recent study by Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture, Quinoa has a perfect balance of protein, oil, fat and antioxidants, which makes it an exceptional healthy food that can lower the risk of various diseases when eaten in conjunction with a healthy diet.  Some of the other minerals and vitamins found in Quinoa are magnesium, copper, phosphorous, folate, potassium and iron.

5 Ways to Eat Quinoa
1. Grind it into flour (or buy the flour) and bake with it. (Recommended)

2. Add raw honey, cinnamon, raisins to boiled grains and eat for breakfast

3. Saute large onion add seasonings of your choice to a cup cooked quinoa

4. Add 1 or 2 cups to sauteed vegetables in place of rice (recommended)

5. Use as a side dish instead of potatoes

This pretty much sums it up about this incredible grain. If you haven’t made quinoa a part of your diet program yet, perhaps after reading this you might start having Quinoa more often.

Source: Department of Food Engineering – Serena Chile
Source: El Telegrapho Newspaper of Ecuador
Source: Wikipedia Quinoa

Until we write again….

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


  1. I thoroughly enjoy Quinoa in the several ways you describe. It is great in multi-grain bread recipes as well.

  2. You can add it to soup, salads, meatloaf, ton's of stuff. :D PT007


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