Ancient Harvest Quinoa
Cooking With This Rediscovered Food

Learn about the ancient harvest Quinoa and how to use it in our modern cooking. This page discusses the seed and how we use it, rather than the product of that name.

Easy Cooking With Ancient Quinoa

A little history

The plant was grown by the Indians in the South American Andes before the arrival of the Conquistadores and the harvest of edible seeds was their main staple with potatoes and maize. It seems there is evidence of harvest of this domesticated crop grown 3000 to 4000 years ago around the areas of Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Columbia. The plant was held to be sacred by the Incas and the religious ceremonies would include the sowing of the first crop by the Emperor using gold religious instruments.

Sadly, the Spanish derided this crop as being "indigenous" and therefore, inferior and banned its cultivation in preference to wheat.

A Grain Or Seed?

Quinoa is not from the family of tall grasses as are cereals and it is related to beets, spinach and tumbleweed. As a layperson, looking at the thick, broad leaves I can see why it is not classified as a grain.

Ancient Harvest But Expensive Modern Food

It's no wonder this seed is expensive to purchase.

The seedheads mature at different times which means it is not suitable for machine harvesting and harvest needs to be timed precisely to minimize high seed loss from shattering and further more, the particles on each individual plant mature at different times.

While the plant is hardy, it is optimally cultivated in cool climates and at altitudes of 2500 - 4000m. This must make access more difficult and transportation costs pricey.

Worth The Effort?

This may be an ancient food, but is it worth the fuss and cost?


  • This rediscovered food is richer in protein than cereals, although not as high as legumes and beans
  • It contains calcium, meaning it's good for those who are lactose intolerant
  • It does not contain gluten
  • It is easy to digest
  • It is an ideal food for vegans
  • It is rich in phosphorous, magnesium, iron and a good source of dietary fiber

Please click on this link if you'd like to learn more about what is quinoa.

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