Written by: Anugraha Babuji
Nowadays, practically every healthy eater’s go-to meal is one that consists of the buckwheat popularly known as quinoa. As an emerging trend, many hip or up-and-coming restaurants are trademarked by this one healthy alternative. Quinoa is the ultimate symbol of a hipster and thankfully replaces carbohydrates, which aren’t the most popular for weight loss or gluten-free diets.
But how did this suddenly famous buckwheat come to be? What is so special about it that the “health-nerds” are starting to replace all their meals with this ingredient? Quinoa, though referred to as a grain, is a seed that is cultivated in South America. For many South Americans, Quinoa serves as a staple food. To Incas, it was known as the “mother of all grains.” Some of the main features that make quinoa popular include its high nutritional value, which provides many benefits to our bodies. Quinoa is also versatile and can be used in complex recipes such as risotto or can be enjoyed with just a dash of olive oil and fresh herbs.
In ISM, it seems that more and more people are bringing lunch made with quinoa; walking around the canteen, it is inevitable that there will be at least one student munching away at the small, light brown clumps of goodness, seasoned with colorful spices. Senior Candice H., who started eating quinoa in sophomore year, was prompted to try it because she “heard it was super healthy and [she] was trying to eat better.” When asked why exactly she continues to eat quinoa, she answered, “The nutritional value for sure. It doesn’t really taste like anything. It just ends up adding volume and nutrition to whatever you’re eating it with. I guess that’s partially why I like it. It’s super good for you but you don’t really have to force yourself to eat it.” For some, consuming foods with high nutritional value such as greens and vegetables require extra willpower, but this is not the case with quinoa. Candice also states, “One of my favorite recipes that I made up with quinoa is a salmon and broccoli casserole with cheese. Quinoa is a complete protein which is extremely rare in non-animal sources so it’s a good way to get protein without the fat, hormones and other general bad things that may come with meat and dairy. It’s good to vary your protein sources and quinoa is great for that! Also it has a lot of fiber which is commonly lacking in the average person’s diet.”
Similar to Candice’s delicious salmon and broccoli casserole with cheese, scrumptious quinoa dishes are available at many local restaurants such as CDP in Rockwell, Wholesome Table, and Cocina Peruvia. Such succulent and delectable dishes include CDP’s Manuka Chevre Salad and the Protein Bowl at Wholesome. Quinoa offers tastes for everyone, so feel free to indulge; it won’t hurt this time!