It’s pronounced "keen-wa.”
It’s high in fiber.
It’s fast and easy to cook (20 minutes!).
It’s delicious hot or cold.
I wrote a piece for BirdChannel a few years ago about quinoa (by the way, it is pronounced "KEEN-Wah”): its history, what it is, what the benefits are, where it originates from and how to cook it.
Courtesy Patricia Sund
Quinoa, freshly cooked and ready to be devoured.
I happen to love the stuff for my birds, and it’s quite the tasty food for our plates as well. It cooks quickly and is ready from tossing it into boiling water and to the strainer in about 20 minutes. So if you are short on time, you can make this in a jiffy.
I have three African greys in my family that range in age from 23 years to 6 years. But they all seem to love quinoa mixed in their Chop as well as being cooked in grain bake casseroles or in a cold mixed salad. But aside from the fact that it’s delicious, it has many nutritional properties that work for parrots and specifically African greys. But all species can benefit from this wonderful "pseudocereal.”
Quinoa: Not A Grain, Despite Its Nickname
Quinoa, known as "The Mother of all Grains” is high in protein, something many grains are lacking and provides all of the essential amino acids. It is considered to be a wonderful antioxidant as well as gluten-free. Why is it gluten-free? Well, it’s because it doesn’t belong to the same family as grains like wheat, barley oats or rye.
Despite the fact that we cook it like a grain, consume it like a grain and it looks like a grain, it’s not a grain. Grains are grasses and quinoa is a part of the family whose other members are swiss chard, spinach and beets. It’s a highly digestible food and it’s a great source of fiber.
It’s a hardy plant as it is grown in areas I simply wouldn’t choose to live in. It thrives in high altitudes, freezing temperatures, very sandy, sub-par soil no other plant would even think about taking root in and it can do with precious little water. This is one tough little plant.
Aside from cooking it, there’s another thing you can do with quinoa: You can grind it up in a blender into flour and use it as a substitute for white flour when you’re making bread for your pet birds. It makes for a much more nutrient-dense product and at the end of the day, you want every mouthful of food that goes down the hatch a really nutritious one. Quinoa happens to deliver the goods when it comes to nutrition content.
All around, quinoa is one of my standard "go-to” staples in my pantry. It is neutral enough in flavor that it adapts to many recipe applications and it is absolutely delicious hot or cold. Try it mixed with chopped vegetables for your parrot’s dinner. Or simply serve plain with a little cinnamon sprinkled on top for a breakfast side dish.
Once your flock is acquainted with quinoa, they will most likely learn to love it. Oh, and by the way, double the batch because, your family will love it as well. And as long as you have mouths to feed, you might as well, feed them all!
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