Apparently it is from South America, gluten free, and has appeared in Costco in a 4lb bag for $10.00 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa
What does anyone know that may be a deterrant from eating it?
I know it tastes horrible. I know it is ridiculously expensive for what is essentially a staple-grain. I know you can't go to a pot-luck in Portland without some half-starved-lookin' hippie bringing a crock-pot of the stuff.
That's all I need to know. :-)
It's not Paleo, but the saponin argument Rob threw out in The Paleo Solution is pretty pointless because quinoa sold in North America has had all the saponin removed. He had nothing bad to say about it so threw that lob out and hoped nobody was smart enough to know the difference. It's not the perfect food, but it's fine to eat and is a decent source of vegetarian protein. All that auto-immune garbage is completely false.
All I know is that It's high in carbs. It contains anti-nutrients. You cannot eat it raw, it must be washed first and cooked. It is not considered Paleo. It tastes okay, and we keep some around for emergencies.
Quinoa is not a true grain (it's not a grass). It's related to spinach, beets and chard. It has a unique taste and texture that does take some getting used to.
It's also a rich source of carbs, and to make matters worse, it has a pretty high glycemic index (above 50).
Quinoa contains a good combination of minerals and amino acids. It might be considered an alternative to grains, but it's definitely not Paleo.
Here's what Cordain's blog has to say about quinoa:
"Quinoa and amaranth are grain-like crops with potential harmful substances namely saponins. Saponins have been demonstrated to increase intestinal permeability which is one of the factors contributing to many autoimmune diseases, as well as irritable bowel syndrome. So, we recommend to avoid quinoa and amaranth, specially if you suffer from an autoimmune disease."
However, according to wikipedia, commercial quinoa has generally had the saponins removed.
The wiki page is pretty interesting. As Rick says, it's not a paleo food, but it looks like it was a staple of the Incan diet. More recently, they've tried breeding quinoa to be saponin=free, but growers rejected it because without the saponins, birds ate the quinoa before it could be harvested!
That is my occasional cheat, I love the quinoa and veggies frozen mix you can buy at Trader Joes. I have not found that it bothers me or makes me feel ill like almost all other grains and wheat......which I found interesting. It is one that I seem to tolerate well.
I love quinoa. Well washed, to remove saponins. I boil it until it is soft and use in place of rice. And I love the leftovers fried with an onion - it goes crisp and crunchy and is divine with a fried egg or two!
I have a very sensitive digestion and lots of things trigger it - but quinoa is just fine for me. High in magnesium and manganese, significant phosphorus, copper, zinc, folate etc.
I can't see a downside so long as it is well washed.