So, who grows Kiwi Quinoa?
Meet Dan and Jacqui Cottrell. They had the initial idea to grow quinoa in the Rangitikei after travelling through South America and noting that the quinoa-growing regions of Peru bore quite a resemblance to home in the Central Plateau of New Zealand. Fast forward a few years, and after many trials and many lessons learned, they had their answer – quinoa can indeed thrive here in New Zealand!
Dan and Jacqui harvested their first crop of Kiwi Quinoa (the first commercially ready quinoa crop harvested in NZ) in February 2016. Now, Kiwi Quinoa is grown in the volcanic soils of the Central Plateau, New Zealand. It is grown spray-free using farming practices that benefit the environment and result in a deliciously nutty and nutrient-dense quinoa.
Kiwi Quinoa is planted in October and harvested in February, meaning it’s a very fast maturing crop only taking four months from sowing to harvest. The quinoa fits into the Cottrell’s greater farming operation and provides a break crop that then allows the quinoapaddock to be regrassed back into permanent pasture in the autumn.
Jacqui and Dan pride themselves on growing their quinoa without the use of herbicides. This was initially because quinoa is technically a broadleaf weed (being closely related to Fat Hen – one of the most prolific weeds on NZ farms) so most herbicides kill quinoa! It’s not easy to grow without herbicides but they have developed a number of ways cope with the weed challenges, such as windrowing the crop ahead of harvest to help the quinoa and any weeds dry down before harvesting. They have also recognised that their consumer is very interested in their quinoa being spray-free, although they’re not certified organic.
What about the health benefits?
Quinoa has a unique nutrition profile that has led to its modern-day “superfood” status. Being one of very few plant foods that contains all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods you can eat. It also contains almost twice as much fibre as most other grains, which is not only great for keeping you full, but is also beneficial for regulating your digestion.
Further contributing to its cult superfood status, quinoa is rich in many health-promoting vitamins and minerals, including iron which carries oxygen around the body to provide energy and aid muscles in their contraction. Iron has also been linked with improving brain function and regulating energy metabolism. The magnesium content of quinoa helps to restore and relax muscles and mind; vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may help improve energy metabolism; and manganese is an antioxidant that helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production. Because quinoa is gluten-free, it is a great meal base for those avoiding wheat in their diet.
Why is Kiwi Quinoa unique?
Kiwi Quinoa is a unique ‘sweet variety’ of quinoa, meaning it does not contain bitter saponins found in most other quinoa. As a result, it does not require processing and polishing to remove saponins and is therefore wholegrain. This makes it more user-friendly in the kitchen and helps retain its complete nutritional profile while giving a unique golden colour and mild, nutty taste with no bitterness.
Quinoa is pronounced ‘keen-wah’.
Quinoa dates back 3000-4000 years ago when the Incas first realised that the quinoa seed was fit for human consumption. It was considered “the gold of the Incas” because they believed it increased the stamina of their warriors throughout battle and on long marches.
Quinoa is not actually a grain but is in fact a seed, sometimes referred to as a “pseudo-grain”, as it is prepared and used in the same way as many grains.
Quinoa thrives in diverse conditions when other crops would fail, including low rainfall, high altitudes, hot sun, freezing temperatures and poor soil conditions.
NASA has proposed quinoa as an ideal food for long-duration space flights.
Cooking Tip! Quinoa should always be washed before use.
Recipes we love using quinoa:
Peach and Walnut Salad – Feed the family or fuel adventures when warm weather arrives with this fresh and satisfying combination of nutty quinoa, juicy peaches, crisp rocket, crunchy walnuts and tangy lemon.
Mexican Stuffed Capsicums – These are ideal to prepare for a potluck dinner or BBQ. They are filled with tasty spiced quinoa, fresh tomatoes and sweet corn, then crisped up on top for a delightful contrast of textures.
Stuffed Kumara with Black Beans and Avo Sour Cream - This dish is so much fun to make and the whole family will love it. The creamy avo sour cream pairs perfectly with soft Kumara and nutty quinoa.
Quinoa Salad w Kale, Cranberries, Goat Cheese & Pistachios – This salad is great for feeding the crew! It’s a little decadent and super satisfying while still being nourishing.
Shop Kiwi Quinoa in our Everyday Essentials Range here.