I discovered quinoa back in Chicago, thanks to my roommate at the time, Nick Eccles. Considered the “mother of all grains” by the Incans, quinoa is the only grain known to be a complete protein source (all 20 amino acids) and has a much higher protein concentration than the usual starchy favorites (potatoes, yuca, rice, etc.). It is gluten-free (aka good for Gary) and a good source of fiber.

Recently, quinoa is becoming more available in the States. Previously relegated to the bulk-foods section of Whole Foods, quinoa has now infiltrated cereals, energy bars, and even the whole-sale goodness of Costco. Unfortunately, the booming interest of developed world has made exporting the grain more lucrative than selling it in local markets, making this great source of nutrients more difficult for Bolivians and Peruvians to afford. That said, quinoa products still abound.

Quinoa soup is a staple. Some restaurants make it like minestrone with lots of vegetables, while other places enfuse plenty of cheese for a more hearty affair. We’ve eaten plenty of quinoa cereal and energy bars (perfect for 27-hour bus rides from La Paz to Lima). And, our new favorite is quinoa chocolate!

Anyway, like I was sayin’, quinoa is the fruit of the land. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There, uh, quinoa kabobs, quinoa creole…quinoa gumbo, panfried, deep fried, stir fried. There’s pineapple quinoa, lemon quinoa, coconut quinoa, pepper quinoa…quinoa soup, quinoa stew, quinoa salad, quinoa and potatoes, quinoa burger, quinoa sandwich…that’s, that’s about it.

Haha, just kidding (that’s Bubba Gump’s version).