Quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are the best-known representatives of the so-called pseudo-cereals, because they form starchy grains similar to cereals. Their seeds can be processed like grains of grain, so that they can be consumed as rice, for example, as a garnish. They can also be used for baking bread, but only together with wheat, rye or spelled flour, because they lack the Gluten gluten important for dough loosening. However, this makes the pseudo-cereals interesting for patients with celiac disease. Like quinoa, amaranth is rich in proteins, minerals, vitamins and fiber. The biological value of the proteins in amaranth surpasses that of milk.
Buckwheat is popular today especially in the whole-food kitchen. It belongs to the family of the Knöterichgewächse and has a nutty taste. It is made into grits, semolina or flour into savory pancakes and pancakes, and is also used as a filling in soups or as a component of patties.
Buckwheat: cultivation in the moor
How the buckwheat came from Central Asia to Central Europe in the 14th century is not exactly to be proved, but that it established itself as a frugal plant quickly prove numerous village chronicles, especially from the north of Germany. The high moor could not be easily managed by the poor peasants because the soil was low in nutrients and acidic.
The predominant means of preparing the peat soil was the "fire culture". In the spring, the farmers lit the dry, mostly heather-covered surfaces. They sowed buckwheat in the still warm ashes.
Buckwheat thrives as one of the few grains on acid bog soil. He matures in just ten to twelve weeks. But the arable land in fire culture could only be used for about six years, after which the earth was exhausted and could only be rebuilt after 30 years.
Amaranth and quinoa as a source of strength
Natural food producers brought quinoa and amaranth to the German market, the "miracle grain from the Andes" is becoming increasingly popular. Amaranth counts as one of the oldest crops of humanity to the foxtail family. Thousands of years ago, it served as a staple food in South America and was at the same time an offering for gods.
For a long time, the plant of amaranth was considered sacred. Incas and Aztecs believed that they had found in them the source of great power. But then came the Spanish conquerors: under their rule, the cultivation was banned, fields were destroyed, because the indigenous people should be deprived of their energy source.
Amaranth provides important ingredients
Amaranth is rich in vitamins B.1 and B2 and minerals. In calcium, magnesium and iron he is the leader among the cereals, in potassium he occupies the second place. Finally, it has larger amounts of unsaturated fatty acids.
Quinoa: nutty pseudo-grain
The goosefoot plant Quinoa (pronounced "Kienwa") is also called "Inca wheat": it provides high-quality protein and contains a lot of iron, zinc and magnesium as well as a high content of unsaturated fatty acids. Among allergy sufferers, it is considered an alternative to conventional cereals.
The pearl-shaped, tiny, pale yellow grains taste slightly nutty. They contain 15 percent more protein than domestic cereals, including many essential amino acids such as lysine, tryptophan and cystine. In addition, the grains are gluten-free. Therefore, they are suitable for people who suffer from celiac disease or sprue, so allergic to the protein gluten in wheat, rye and other cereals respond.
Hazardous ingredients in pseudo cereals
The research institute for child nutrition in Dortmund points out with the pseudogetreids on some dangerous characteristics. What many people do not know: Amaranth - and millet as well - contains certain tannins, which are responsible for the fact that the human body absorbs vitamins and minerals worse.
In addition, they inhibit digestive enzymes and make the utilization of protein from food more difficult. In buckwheat, the red dye from the fruit skin ("fagopyrin") is problematic: if you eat it with you, the skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight - this is no longer the case with peeled buckwheat.
Saponins in quinoa can be harmful
Quinoa protects itself from pests by bitter-tasting saponins, which are stuck in the seed coat. Saponins can damage blood cells and irritate the intestinal mucosa. As a result, pollutants and allergens can pass through the intestinal wall into the blood. In infants, the digestive system is not yet mature, so the saponins are particularly problematic for them.
In the case of an intestinal inflammation, they can also be dangerous for adults: in some circumstances, they enter the blood, destroy red blood cells and damage the liver.
Is quinoa harmful?
The magazine Ökotest writes: "Commercially available quinoa is washed or peeled and debittered, but it is not known if and how many saponins survive this procedure, which heats quinoa and can thus neutralize about one third of any remaining saponins. "
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) advises against the use of quinoa food for children under the age of two. Despite the purification, it can not be ruled out that the saponins "are still present in traces". For older children and adults, however, the restrictions do not apply. Nevertheless you should wash quinoa under running water.