In Challapata, Bolivia, quinoa is indeed a “Mother.” In this area, where quinoa is grown, it is referred to as “chisiya mama,” meaning “mother of all grains” in the Aymara language.
Quinoa (Pronounced KEEN-wah) has an interesting history. Its origins date back literally thousands of years ago in the Andean regions of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. It is a hardy crop that thrives under some of the most miserable conditions imaginable: High and dry altitude, rocky, sandy and alkaline soil and drought.
It grows equally well under a hot sun as well as sub-freezing temperatures. So quinoa is not only the “Mother of all Grains,” it is indeed a “tough mother.” But it is also a very easy mother to love.
Recently it has become wildly popular. It has become so popular in fact that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2013 “The Year of Quinoa.”
As its popularity grew over the last decade or so, cultivation of quinoa has increased. The practice of growing quinoa has become more widespread and it is now being cultivated in more than 70 countries including France, England, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Italy. It is also being successfully introduced in Kenya, India and the United States particularly Colorado.
It can be easily found in most grocery stores as people realize its nutritional benefits and nutty pleasant flavor.
It’s actually not a grain at all. It’s known as a “pseudo-cereal.
High in magnesium and iron and an excellent source of calcium and potassium, it’s also a naturally gluten-free food.
It contains all of the essential amino acids making it a complete protein, something handy for vegetarians to know. Research has shown that one cup of quinoa contains the same amount of calcium as a quart of milk.
This is a boon for parrots requiring a higher level of calcium in their diet. High in protein, iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber, it’s a treasure trove of nutrition.
It is also gluten-free because it doesn’t belong to the same family as grains like wheat, barley, oats or rye. And it is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper and zinc compared to wheat, corn and barley.
It’s an extremely flexible food source. You can eat it hot, cold and you can sprout it. It can be served it as you would oatmeal, as a side dish for dinner, or you can sprinkle it on a salad after it has been chilled. You can even grind it up and use it in baked goods. Not into grinding you own flour? No worries. Quinoa flour can be commonly found in many grocery stores, specialty shops and online.
It a very versatile food source. It is fact that it’s delicious!
Oh and yes, please offer it to your parrots!
Quinoa has also become a staple in what I call my “parrot pantry” at home. This is where I store all of the stapes to make food for my three African Greys. I feed it often to my African Greys. It goes into their vegetable “Chop” and I frequently added to what I call a “Grain Bake,” a quickly assembled and baked, healthy casserole for your flock that can be portioned out into zip-loc bags and frozen for future use.
My Greys absolutely love quinoa and but it is a small enough grain to be enjoyed by the little birds as well.
Quinoa cooks quickly, in about 15 minutes, and can be served to you or your parrots in a myriad of ways. Simply bring two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain. Once it begins to boil vigorously, simmer on a low temperature for 14 to 18 minutes and it’s done.
One of the reasons I like quinoa is that it is a food that can be shared and enjoyed by all members of the family: humans and parrots alike. If you’re cooking quinoa for your family, cook up a little extra for your flock. Quinoa is easily refrigerated and reheated to be enjoyed the next day.