Tonight starts the eight-day long Jewish holiday of Passover, during which one may not eat chametz — the collective name for leavened products containing wheat, barley, oats, rye, or spelt.
Last Passover I told you about matzo – the unleavened bread that Jews eat over the course of the holiday. Over the years, supermarket shelves have become stocked with more and more foods that are Kosher for Passover, including noodles and rolls (generally made out of potato flour). One item that was approved for Passover and has become popular over the past few years is quinoa.
As quinoa has risen in popularity, rabbinical authorities realized that it is a Kosher for Passover grain — very exciting news for Jews who knew about quinoa and all it’s virtues. I for one was thrilled with this news — one more food that we can eat on Passover to avoid the monotony of matzo and potatoes.
I’ve mentioned quinoa before, but never really shared all of its benefits. Here are some facts about quinoa:
- It’s an ancient grain (like einkorn), although it is actually a seed related to leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard.
- It’s the only grain that is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids you need.
- It’s high in fiber and a very good source of the minerals manganese, magnesium, and iron.
- It’s gluten-free.
Interestingly, there was an article in today’s NY Times questioning whether quinoa is in fact Kosher for Passover. The reason for the debate? Some Rabbis say that some quinoa grown in Bolivia (where it originates) is harvested with wheat and corn (two forbidden foods on Passover) so there may be some particles mixed into the packaged quinoa. To me, this debate calls to mind a bigger issue: whether the quinoa is in fact gluten-free —
an important, potentially life-threatening concern for people with celiac disease or wheat and gluten allergies.
To be 100% certain that you are getting gluten-free and Kosher for Passover quinoa you must read the labels. According to Rabbis who approve quinoa for Passover, the two brands that are given thumbs up are Ancient Harvest Quinoa and Trader Joe’s brand. So stick with these if you’re observing the holiday and/or following a gluten-free diet.
What do you think about quinoa? Do you like it?