Quinoa is one of my favorite foods. To me it’s like rice that tastes like perfectly-cooked au dente pasta, and it’s great with almost everything. Quinoa is definitely known as hippie food because it’s super healthy, and it’s one of the few vegan choices out there that has all the amino acids for a complete protein. It’s grain-like, but technically a pseudocereal.
This, of course, is all stuff I discovered after developing my love for it. Not a hippie on purpose. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to hike the Inca Trail in Peru, and our group lived on the stuff. Every day we had quinoa soup for lunch and dinner, to the point that I dubbed the trip “fat camp.” At the end of the trip, my love for quinoa was still strong, which is saying a lot.
I never put it together that, since quinoa is from the mountains of Peru, it is a fairly frost tolerant plant and so a decent choice for zone 4 growing. Earlier this year I tried starting a couple seeds at the same time as my peppers and tomatoes, and found out that none of them came up because a soil temperature much over 60 degrees can prevent quinoa germination (my germination mat stays at around 80 degrees). So, on Sunday I direct-sowed some quinoa in front of my pea plants in the back of my raised bed. The plan is that by the time the pea plants are done for the season, the quinoa will just be getting tall enough to over-take them. And, since they are in the back of the garden bed, when they reach 4-6 feet, they won’t overshadow any of the other plants. I’ll keep you posted on whether this magnificent plan comes to fruition.
I called around to a bunch of the local gardening stores in the Twin Cities to see if they carried quinoa seeds, and Bachman’s was the only place I found. Let me know if you know of other places in the area that do!
One cool thing about quinoa is that a substance called saponin coats the grains, which birds and other critters are not fond of. That is a good thing in my neighborhood, where critters run rampant. The other side of this coin, however, is that you need to wash the saponin off before you eat it, which is a source of some frustration. I’m not too worried, though. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, and by then will have done enough research to have a good starting point…hopefully.
If you have experience growing this stuff, let me know!