How to Use Quinoa

Quinoa (keen-wah) is the ultimate super-grain. Not only is it gluten-free, but it is also high in protein, and offers many vitamins and minerals (magnesium and iron). It’s also wonderfully easy to cook and incredibly flexible for recipes.

Quinoa is available at Natural Options as well as many of the ingredients listed in these recipes.

Cooking quinoa is just like cooking rice. It’s a 2-1 water to grain ratio (1 cup water and 1/2 cup quinoa). Get out your strainer first and rinse the quinoa under cold water before cooking. Then add the quinoa and water to a pot (you can go easy on the water – a little under a 2-1 ratio works well, too!), bring it to a boil, cover it and let it cook for 20 minutes. It’s easier than rice because you can open the pan and stir it to make sure the water is absorbing properly. If the heat is up too high, the quinoa might cook a lot faster than you anticipated! Once done, fluff and serve in place of rice or couscous.

A really easy side dish for a meal is to put a cube of chicken or vegetable bullion in the pot with the quinoa while it cooks. Then when it’s halfway done cooking, add small pieces of carrots and celery to soften for the second half of the cooking. (gluten-free, vegan, candida friendly if you use spices instead of bullion (e.g. oregano or parsley))

Quinoa salads are in abundance these days! Here’s one of my favorites. Cook the quinoa like normal and set aside to cool. While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing. Take 1 clove of garlic (pressed/chopped), 1 lemon juiced, 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, and 1/2 a teaspoon ground cumin. Stir together. In a bowl add the cooked quinoa, 1 cup of canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained, 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 a red bell pepper and 1/2 a green bell pepper (or whole of 1) and 1/2 or whole cucumber sliced into small pieces. Drizzle the dressing on top, stir, and serve topped with fresh parsley. (gluten-free, vegan)

Or, my favorite: Quinoa Black-Bean Burgers

  • 1/2 cup of quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/4 onion chopped
  • Handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Oregano, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper
  • Water

While cooking the quinoa, put the onion and sun-dried tomatoes in a pan with a little bit of olive oil (if the sun-dried tomatoes don’t have enough already), then add the garlic and sauté. After about 5 minutes add 1/4 cup of water and sprinkle the spices into the mixture— I went easy on the cayenne but used about a teaspoon of oregano and paprika. Add about 3/4 of the black beans too. After the water has cooked down, add the mixture to the food processor with about 3/4 of the cooked quinoa and blend it enough to chop up the ingredients, but not to turn it into cream. Put into a bowl and add the rest of the beans and quinoa. Form into patties and bake for 20 minutes at 350—or try grilling for about 10 minutes. I grilled mine for Memorial Day and they broke apart a little, but the next day (after refrigerating overnight) the leftovers were a lot firmer.

The next day for lunch I made a salad with romaine lettuce, mixed greens, red bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, and added the broken-apart burger pieces to it and topped it with salsa. It was so yummy! (vegan, gluten-free)

You can even make a quinoa “oatmeal”. Cook the quinoa like normal but add a bit of apple juice when it’s almost done cooking. When it’s done, add small pieces of apples, walnuts and sprinkle with cinnamon. If you don’t like apple juice, substitute agave syrup after cooking. Agave is a low glycemic natural sweetener – perfect for those avoiding sugar. (gluten-free, vegan, candida friendly only after the first 3 weeks (no apples for the 1st 3 weeks))

Try adding quinoa into your rotation and substitute it for rice and pasta. You won’t regret it!