Quinoa (KEEN-wah) The Versatile Grain

By on October 7, 2014
quinoa recipes

One of my absolute favorite foods to have on hand is Quinoa (KEEN-wah). Not just because it’s fun to say, but because it is incredibly versatile AND has the highest nutritional profile of all grains. It even cooks the fastest of all grains, letting me make healthy meals in a “ snap”. Quinoa is an extremely high energy grain and has been grown and consumed for approximately 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes in South America. The Incas were able to run such long distances at such a high altitude because of this powerful grain.  It could be considered a “Super-food”.


  • Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
  • Has a protein content equal to milk
  • High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E Gluten-free; easy to digest
  • Ideal food for endurance
  • Strengthens the kidneys, heart, and lungs


When quinoa is cooked, the outer germ surrounding the seed breaks open to form a crunchy coil, while the inner grain becomes soft and translucent. This double texture makes it delicious, versatile, and fun to eat. To save time, cook a lot of quinoa at once, and eat it as leftovers. Quinoa can be reheated with a splash of soy or nut milk for breakfast porridge; you can add dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad, or add chopped, cooked, root vegetables for a warming side dish. Store dry, uncooked quinoa in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed glass jar for up to one year.


Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Saponin, when removed from quinoa, produces a soapy solution in water. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use. Place quinoa in a grain strainer and rinse thoroughly with water.

Basic Quinoa Ingredients: 1 cup quinoa 2 cups water seasonings to taste


Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa with cool water until the water runs clear. Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook covered for 15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes covered; fluff with a fork. Season as you like.

*For a delicious toasted flavor, dry roast for 5 minutes in saucepan before adding liquid.

*For an alternative option, cook in vegetable broth instead of water for a richer flavor.

Here are two simple and quick recipes using quinoa that you can try.

Sweet Quinoa Breakfast


3/4 C. cooked quinoa

1/2 C. non-dairy milk (almond, soy, hemp, rice, coconut)

Toppings: sliced almonds, cinnamon, drizzle of coconut nectar or maple syrup, chopped date,shredded coconut, grated apples

Mix in option: Vegan protein powder (1scoop vanilla)


Combine quinoa and almond milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until warmed. Add in protein powder if desired and mix in. Add more milk in needed.

Transfer to bowl and add toppings.

Quinoa Salad


1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup scallion, chopped

1/2 cup cucumber, chopped

1/2 cup tomato, diced

salt and pepper to taste


Place cooled, cooked quinoa in a large bowl.

Add all ingredients to bowl with quinoa and combine.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Great cold or at room temperature.

About Nicole Dawson

Nicole is the Author of Sweet Cheats (an Allergy Free and mostly Vegan cookbook), a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, wife and mother of three. After my youngest’s diagnoses of life threatening food allergies to dairy and eggs and nuts, we started removing foods from out diets which eventually lead us to a vegan lifestyle. I taught myself how cook and bake differently, using whole, plant based, allergy safe ingredients. My passion is to introduce a plant-based lifestyle to families and show them how delicious and and better it is for them so that they can live long, happy, healthy lives. You can follow her blog at www.happybellyhealthybody.com.