Can CARNIVORES Stomach The Unpalatable Truth About Quinoa?
So did you know 2013 is the international year of Quinoa?
Given its recent shot to fame this little seed has been a BIG topic of conversation in many of my nutritional consultations lately and also appears to be cheap fodder for journalists, in particular this article I have seen pop up on Facebook multiple times over the last week: ‘Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?’ Here’s the gist of it:
- Bolivian quinoa growers are getting shafted to the point where they cannot afford their own produce.
- The journalist blames vegans for this issue suggesting that plant based eaters consume more of it than those that eat animals.
- There is another attempt to throw rocks at vegans when the journalist mentions soy, again suggesting vegan consumption has made this “another problematic import”.
- In regard to quinoa, this is not new information. Perhaps this is even a recycled article? Regardless, this first came to our attention a few years back and it’s not just quinoa folks, it’s something we should all be cognisant of when we purchase anything (not just food). It is all part of living a conscious life.
- If you are concerned about the quinoa you are buying check the packet to find out where the product (not just the company) is from. Kindred Organics in Tasmania are Australian quinoa growers and supply some well-known stores (e.g. Honest to Goodness). Keep it local wherever possible or at least make sure you’re buying Fair Trade if forced to source from overseas.
- There are plenty of carnivores we know that devour vast quantities of quinoa over and above what plant based eaters do so we can only surmise that the journalist was looking for a catchy headline so hey, why not pick on a minority group, right?
- As for vegans taking the rap for Soy consumption? Personally, I don’t know many health and ethically conscious people (carnivores or herbivores) who eat a lot of soy (if any). Most are wise enough to know that it is horrid stuff and to leave it well alone. We have a feature article on this coming up!
- Don’t be put off quinoa, just be conscious of where it has come from!
- Can carnivores stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa, that it is not a minority group (i.e. vegans) causing the unjust extortion of quinoa growers in South America?
Things we love about Quinoa…
- It is a seed not a grain (popular misconception).
- It is a great source of Protein – it contains all 9 essential amino acids although not technically a ‘complete protein’ because it does not register 1.0 on the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) . This is because after eating and digesting them not all of the amino acids are available for use in the body.
- It cooks quickly.
- It is high in B Vitamins, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Calcium and Vitamin E.
- It is gluten free making it easier to digest.
- It is digested slowly giving sustained energy making it an ideal food for endurance athletes.
- Quinoa flakes can be thrown in a blender to make a great flour.
How to prepare and cook your Quinoa…
Quinoa contains a natural (but toxic) bitter coating called ‘saponin’ (see ‘Things to note’ below). When you remove the saponin this is what makes the water go cloudy. Depending on where you source your quinoa, it may have been pre-rinsed but it’s best you do this at home regardless by following these steps:
- Soak your Quinoa in water for ~ 15 minutes.
- Scoop out any debris that has risen to the top (this is rare but some times you get a wee present)
- Then rinse 3-4 times through a fine mesh strainer, using your hands to separate the seeds, until the water runs clear.
- Place quinoa in a pot with 1:2 ratio of quinoa to cold water. Make sure you use an appropriate size pot. Don’t try and cram a large amount in a small pot, it will make it gluggy.
- Place the pot (with lid) on a medium heat and cook for ~15 minutes.
- Once all the water has been absorbed, remove from the heat. Lift the lid and fold a clean tea towel in half and place it over the pot and then replace the lid. Let it stand for ~10 minutes. The tea towel will absorb the moisture. This part is crucial if you want fluffy quinoa!
- Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
Things to note…
- Even if you soaked your Quinoa for ~ 24 hours it would still contain traces of saponin. For anyone with ‘leaky gut’ go easy on the quinoa as saponin can damage your microvilli and make this condition even worse.