What is Quinoa? How To Cook Perfect Quinoa


Quinoa is an ancient Incan “grain” that is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition.  In  the ancient Incan civilization they revered it as the “mother grain”.   They loved  it so much in fact they even planted it with a golden shovel.

Technically quinoa is not a grain at all, but a seed related to the spinach family-see I told you it was a powerhouse.    Since I discovered quinoa a few years ago it has been a staple in my house- I LOVE IT and use it for everything from salads, to breakfast cereals, and even in my pancakes and cookies.     I consider it a must when building a healthy pantry.


Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Nutrition

  • High in protein -quinoa has more protein than any other grain, it also contains the 9 essential amino acids  making it a complete protein.
  • Lowers your blood pressure–  quinoa is high in magnesium which relaxes the blood vessels helping to lower your blood pressure and improve overall heart health
  • Helps reduce migraines– quinoa is high in magnesium which helps with the constriction and rebound dilation of blood vessels that are characteristic in migraines.  Quinoa also has riboflavin which has been proven to lessen the frequency of migraines.
  • Fights off dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances- the manganese and copper found in quinoa are powerful antioxidants that help fight disease
  • Higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron,  copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, and corn.
  • Gluten Free-quinoa is a gluten free grain and good for those who can’t tolerate any grains  because it is a seed


Ideas on How to Use Quinoa

  • Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander dress with your favorite dressing-yummy.
  • Add nuts, honey, and fruit to cooked quinoa and serve it as a breakfast cereal. My little girl loves quinoa for breakfast- it is a really easy to eat baby food make sure you don’t sweeten  with  honey until they are one years old.
  • Try quinoa noodles for your favorite pasta dish-these are really good if you haven’t tried them yet you should.
  • Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches.
  • Add quinoa to your favorite soups.
  • Stuff bell peppers with quinoa.
  • Ground quinoa flour or cooked quinoa can be added to cookie,muffin, bread,or pizza dough recipes.
  • Quinoa is great to use in tabouli or any recipe calling for bulgur wheat for a gluten free option.
  • TIME SAVER: make a big batch and freeze half of it.  Use the other half in all of the ideas above to save time.
  • Here are recipes for my  favorite salad, and I love to top quinoa with roasted veggies, good quinoa pancakes, quinoa for breakfast, and fabulous quinoa cookies.

Where to Buy Quinoa

I buy my quinoa from Costco in a pinch, but it is even cheaper to buy it in a 25 pound bag from Walton Feed or to cut out having to pick it up Alpine Food Storage who gets it from Walton Feed- it is about the same price.


How To Make Perfect Quinoa

Quinoa has a real nutty flavor it is light and fluffy and one of my favorite grains.  Although pretty straight forward to make  can yield mushy results if not cooked properly.  Here is a technique I found to produce consistently good results EVERY time.

1. Rinse your quinoa in a fine mesh strainer- this is important because quinoa has  a bitter coating on it to prevent the birds from eating it.

2.Put 1 cup of rinsed quinoa and 2 cups of water or chicken/veggie broth in a pan that you have a lid to-if your kitchen is anything like mine  those lids disappear for no good reason.  If using water add a little salt to the water.  I like to cook mine in broth for salads  and water  to  use it for breakfast or in baked goods.

3.Cook the quinoa on medium heat for 15 minutes or so.  Watch the quinoa,  when it has almost absorbed all of the water, just a little should be left, and a little spiral or tail comes off of the grain turn off the heat.

4.This part is where the magic comes in-don’t skip this step.  Cover the pan with the lid and let  sit for 10 minutes more.  If you are impatient, like me, and everyone is staring at you hungrily waiting to be fed, let it sit for at least 5 minutes.


Quinoa Recipes coming up-stay tuned.  In the mean time share with us your favorite way to use quinoa in the comments.  Also if you liked this post and want more information sign up for my newsletter, and to get the latest posts like my Facebook page!

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10 Responses to What is Quinoa? How To Cook Perfect Quinoa

  1. Vennesa says:

    Thanks. These look good. I’m looking forward to more quinoa recipes.

    • desiree says:

      Venessa- Thanks for visiting my blog. Stay tuned I have a superfoods cookie, a lemon basil quinoa salad and a spring summer quinoa chopped salad that is SO good.

  2. So anyway…just pinned your last three posts. JUST sayin! 😉

  3. Connie says:

    Are your ratios correct? I love your recipes but am wondering if you had a typo. I usually do 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. I usually doing it my rice cooker — maybe that makes a difference. I was just surprised to see that you do 1 to 1.

    • desiree says:

      Connie-thanks for catching that NO you are right it is 2:1. I will have to change that, again thanks for seeing that.

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  7. Mirza says:

    Great article I love how you explained everything and gave us recipe 😉

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