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Healthy Eating

Get Keen on Quinoa

Don’t be afraid to cook quinoa. Here are some simple tips and recipes for cooking it.

So you’ve been musing over your plate. You’re thinking about eating less meat. Or you’re bored to death with rice. Maybe you just want to try something different. But what?

Quinoa could be the key to your mealtime happiness. It’s called an ancient grain (even though the part we eat is the seed of the plant), and archeologists say it was domesticated as a crop circa 5000 BC. Primarily grown in Peru and Bolivia, it’s known as the golden grain of the Andes, due to its high nutritional value.

While Quinoa may be ancient, it’s trendy today, especially for anyone seeking nutritional power. It contains a complete protein, and provides all of the essential amino acids you need.

It’s especially beneficial if you’re watching how much you eat. Quinoa’s high protein can increase your metabolism, and because it’s high in fiber, you’ll feel full and have a reduced appetite – which of course means you’ve consumed fewer calories.

Although there are more than 120 different types of quinoa grown, you’ll mostly find three varieties in your grocery store: white, red and black. All three have a delicate taste that’s almost nutty, and a texture with a bit of crunch. White quinoa is most commonly used, but you may also find red and black varieties in larger stores. The only real difference between them is how they hold their shape after cooking.

Which leads us to an important subject – how to cook quinoa, and what you can make with it. The great thing about quinoa is that it’s nearly foolproof to cook. Here’s what to do:

Rinse it. Quinoa contains saponins, which taste bitter.  Rinsing removes the saponins and ensures your quinoa has a pleasant flavor. Most packaged quinoa has been rinsed, but better safe than sorry. 

Measure it. Add quinoa and water to a pot, using a 1:2 ratio (as in 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water, which results in 3 cups cooked quinoa)

Cook it. Cover the pot. On medium-high heat, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 10-20 minutes.  The quinoa is done when the water’s been absorbed. Each seed becomes fuller and takes on a curly shape.

Fluff it. Stir the quinoa with a fork, then cover and let rest for 2 minutes. 

Serve or Store.   If you’re using your quinoa in a hot dish, you’re ready to serve. If you’re putting it in a salad or other cold dish, spread it out on a rimmed dish or sheet so it cools quickly, and then refrigerate it. 

Now that you know how easy it is to make quinoa, you need some ideas on what to make.  It can be a side dish, a casserole, salad base, and so much more. And of course, Mindful has quite a few recipes for healthy quinoa dishes with full flavor:


Ellie Krieger’s Breakfast Grain and Sauteed Banana Bowl

Red Quinoa Pancakes


Baja Fish and Quinoa Tacos

Mediterranean Spinach and Quinoa Salad


Grilled Pesto Salmon with Quinoa and Veggies

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed with Spicy Quinoa

And even dessert!

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more nutritious and versatile ingredient than quinoa. It goes well with so many foods, and it’s tasty too! Once you’ve tried it, it’s sure to become a pantry regular.



Is Quinoa Really Worth The Nutrition Hype? (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from http://time.com/4052489/quinoa-health-benefits-nutrition/

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