Harvested raw Quinoa
Chances are, you’ve heard of Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). Originally from the Andes of South America, the plant’s seeds are are boiled and have become popular as a higher fiber alternative to rice. Known as a psuedoceral, being not quite a true grain or a true cereal, quinoa has rocketed to the forefront of health food circles. While it does have twice as much protein by mass as white rice, and would provide a good alternative in that respect, quinoa doesn’t have as high a protein content as most other beans and legumes. For example cooked quinoa has 4.4g protein out of 100 grams versus 5.22g/100g protein in canned kidney beans. However for taste and texture, it’s a new and different alternative. It also grows in low nutrient, low moister, sandy soils, making it more versatile and environmentally friendly than other common grains, some beans, and especially rice, which requires a tremendous amount of water to cultivate. 2013 has also been declared International Year of Quinoa by the UN, as well as international year of Water cooperation, which - given the low moisture requirements of quinoa - seems appropriate.

Cooked Red Quinoa. Photos via Wikimedia Commons