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The Next Quinoa is…

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In just a few years’ time, quinoa has become immensely popular in the Western world. Where it first was an obscure grain from Peru and Bolivia, it is now known as a superfood and health nuts all over the world go bananas over it (myself included). Unfortunately, its rising popularity has had some negative consequences. The pseudo grain tripled in price, sparking the Great Quinoa Debate.

Guardian Journalist Joanna Blythman writes that “The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it once was a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it.”

Ari LeVaux from Slate argues that this is an oversimplification of the problem and that discouraging people from eating quinoa might end up hurting the quinoa farmers instead. And so the Great Quinoa Debate continues…

Whether you don’t want to eat quinoa because of ethical reasons, whether you are tired of the quinoa craze, or whether you just want to try something new, here are some cereals that are also worth taking a look at:

Teff

Teff-FlourTeff is a wheat-like grain (also known as Williams lovegrass). It grows in the northern Ethiopian Highlands and the Eritrean Highlands of the Horn of Africa. Injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread and a national dish in Ethiopia, is made from teff. The grain is similar to quinoa in cooking and it also has similar health benefits.

Teff Health Benefits
  • It is suitable for people with celiac disease, as the gluten in teff does not contain the a-gliadin-fraction that causes a reaction.

  • It is high in calcium.

  • It is high in protein.

  • It features significant levels of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, aluminum, iron, copper, zinc, boron, barium and thiamin.

  • It is higher in lysine than wheat or barley.

  • It is high in fiber.

  • It includes all 8 essential amino acids

You can probably buy teff at your local health store, but you can also buy it online on Amazon (what can’t you buy on Amazon these days).

FreekehFreekeh

Freekeh is a Middle Eastern cereal food made from green wheat. When the grains are yellow and the seeds are soft, the wheat is harvested, sun-dried, and carefully set on fire. Because the seeds have are high in moisture, they don’t get burned. This unique roasting process gives the grain its distinctive nutty flavour.

Freekeh Health Benefits
  • It is high in fiber (4x higher in fiber than other comparable grains)

  • It has a low glycemic index, so it is very suitable for managing diabetes.

  • It is low carb. Its starch content is “resistant starch”.

  • It has a low fat content (similar to brown rice).

  • It is high in protein.

  • It is high in calcium, iron and zinc.

Just like Teff, you can find Freekeh in health stores or online. Some Middle Eastern shops may also sell this superfood.

Fonio

FonioFonio is a grain that is quite similar to couscous and quinoa in appearance and texture. It is native to West Africa, and has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is used to make porridge, couscous, bread and beer. The grains are very small, making it difficult (and time-consuming) to remove the husk. Fonio is relatively unknown in the Western world, but it has been gaining popularity slowly thanks to its nutritional properties.

Fonio Health Benefits
  • It is gluten free, which makes it suitable for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

  • It is high in iron.

  • It is high in fiber.

  • It contains high levels of amino acids methionine and cystine.

Fonio is a bit harder to find than teff and freekeh. African shops may sell it and you can also buy it online.

Have you ever cooked with teff, freekeh or fonio? Are you going to? How do you feel about the Great Quinoa Debate? Let us know & leave a comment!

Emmy

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EmmyThe Next Quinoa is…

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