Featured Food – Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the many things opened up to me by the world of healthy living blogs. It’s as versatile as it is healthy and I love how quick and easy it is to prepare. It’s considered a pseudocereal because it’s not actually a member of the grass family.  In fact, it’s actually related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweed (source).

Although I regularly pronounce quinoa like qui-no-a in my head, the correct pronunciation is keen-wah.  When you eat quinoa, you are actually eating the seed of the quinoa plant.  Apparently, the leaves are also edible but not sold commercially.

Quinoa is gluten free and a really easy way for vegetarians and vegans to get plenty of non-animal protein.  And it cooks up so easily!  While rice takes ages until it’s ready to eat, quinoa cooks up lickety split.


Nutritional stats:

Serving size: 1 cup (185 g)
Calories: 222
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium 13 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 39 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 8 g

Here are a few of the important nutrients found in quinoa:

  • Iron (15%) – essential nutrient that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to muscles and organs; iron deficiency may result in fatigue, irritability, and headaches
  • Protein (16%) – important in the makeup of every cell in the body, builds and repairs tissues; protein is a macronutrient which means the body needs a large amount* of it to perform properly; the body cannot store protein
  • Folate (19%) – Aids in making new cells and is extremely important for pregnant mothers because it can prevent birth defects
  • Copper (18%) – helps the body use iron, promotes the health of bones and tissue, helps the body produce melanin (a pigment), helps protect nerves
  • Magnesium (30%) – helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, keeps bones strong, and promotes a healthy heart
  • Phosphorus (28%) – creates strong bones and teeth, excrete toxins from the body, promotes reproductive healthy and aids in digestion, may lessen the chance of getting certain types of cancer
  • Manganese (58%) – – Strengthens bones, keeps blood healthy, and may lessen the symptoms of PMS

*We actually need less than what most Americans consume.

Now let’s get to the fun part!

How do I cook quinoa and what can I do with it?

Cooking quinoa is easy! You simply boil it.  Most quinoa has already been pre-rinsed, but a brief rinsing is usually recommended to eliminate all of the saponin, a natural covering that protects quinoa from birds and insects and has a bitter flavor if not removed.

Cook quinoa in a 3:4 ratio of quinoa to water.  So for 1 cup of quinoa, use 1 3/4 cup of water.  For 3 cups of quinoa (that’s a lot!), use 4 cups of water.

Once your quinoa is cooked, the possibilities are endless for what you can do with it.  Here are some of my favorites!

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Salad

Meatless Meatballs

Breakfast Quinoa

What I love about quinoa is that it’s such a great base for other random ingredients you have lying around your kitchen.  Here’s a few quinoa uses of mine that were a bit “random”  but still just as delicious as the the recipes above.

Italian Quinoa
Yellow Tofu Scramble + Quinoa
Quinoa with Nutty Spicy Tofu and Roasted Broccoli
Quinoa with an Egg and Veggies

All in all, these ideas are pretty tame.  I clearly need to step it up in being creative with one of my favorite quasi-grains.  Here are a few I’m dying to try!

Spabettie’s Seven Layer Dip with Nacho Cheese (*hint* – quinoa is one of the layers!)
Heather’s HEABlet Bars
Sarah’s Thai Fried Quinoa
Carolina’s Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes