Quinoa… you’ve probably heard of it, but have you tried it? You may find it delicious enough to make it a normal part of your pantry and meal rotation. Here you’ll find the story of quinoa, and some yummy ways to use it.
Quinoa Nutrition Facts
Quinoa is a grain crop with edible seeds, and it’s a seed that is just as nutritious as it is versatile.
It’s naturally gluten-free, a good source of protein and fiber, and one of its most beneficial nutritional qualities is that it contains all 9 essential amino acids.1 It also contains B vitamins, magnesium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.2
One cup of cooked quinoa provides:2
- 8 grams of protein
- 5 grams of fiber
- 3.6 grams of fat
- 39 grams of carbohydrate
- 222 calories
Quinoa also contains flavonoids, which are beneficial antioxidant plant compounds.3 And, because quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, it is a perfect plant-based protein source for vegans and vegetarians. Plus, it’s cholesterol and trans fat-free.2
Because of its great nutrition profile, quinoa may help fill you up, and keep you fuller longer. It’s satisfying, delicious and easy to cook.
History of Quinoa
Quinoa is native to Peru and has been referred to as “the mother of all grains” because of its comprehensive protein profile.4 It was first cultivated in the Andes Mountains, and it’s a plant actually related to beets, chard, and spinach.5
How to Cook Quinoa
When quinoa is cooked, it becomes soft and fluffy, and has a nutty taste. It’s very versatile, because it can handle other flavors no matter what recipe it’s used in. For this reason, it’s often used as a high-protein and higher-fiber swap for rice. It’s delicious used in pilafs, soups, stews, sides, stir-fry, or lunch bowls.
To cook quinoa, simply rinse it until the water runs clear, then boil 2 parts water with 1 part quinoa. Cover and reduce heat, simmering for 12-15 minutes. The quinoa should absorb all of the water. Then remove from heat, and fluff quinoa with a fork. Season, and stir in whatever other tasty elements you like.
If you are new to using quinoa, here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
- Swap in quinoa wherever you would use rice.
- Add quinoa to salads and soups.
- Cook quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth to increase the flavor.
- Meal prep quinoa at the beginning of the week, and use as a staple for lunches throughout the week.
- Think of quinoa as a “canvas” for other great flavors. For example:
- Taco quinoa: Add black beans, pinto beans, taco-seasoned ground beef or chicken, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cheese, and cilantro.
- Mediterranean quinoa: Stir in canned artichoke quarters, drained and rinsed cannellini beans, chopped fresh spinach, canned basil and garlic petite diced tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.
- Asian stir-fry quinoa: Add in stir-fried veggies such as broccoli, carrots, and snow peas, with a little low-sodium soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. Top with grilled chicken.
- Vegetable quinoa: Add any roasted vegetables you can think of! Sprinkle in chopped herbs such as rosemary, parsley, and basil. Top with diced creamy avocado.
Here are two easy quinoa recipes that I love to make:
Black Bean and Corn Quinoa
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions: Spray a medium-sized saucepan with non-stick cooking spray.
and add onion, cooking until translucent (about 5 minutes). Turn heat to high and add
chicken broth. Bring to a boil, add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and
simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients, turn heat to low, and continue cooking just until warm. Serve warm or chilled!
Delicious Cranberry Pecan Warm Quinoa Salad
One bite of this will convince you! Enjoy it as a delicious side, or add grilled chicken or steak to make it a meal.
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup quinoa
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup toasted pecans
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions: Spray a medium-sized saucepan with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high and add onion, cooking until translucent (about 5 minutes). Turn heat to high and add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Sprinkle cranberries in, cover again, and let quinoa stand for 5 minutes. Mix in pecans and salt, and serve!