What is Quinoa?
You might have heard a lot about quinoa recently, as its popularity has grown quite a bit in the last couple years. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), is a seed from the Chenopodium Quinoa plant, so it is technically not a whole-grain, but since it used as such and has similar compounds and uses, it is sometimes considered as one. The nutritional and health benefits of quinoa are plentiful, one cup of cooked quinoa provides:
- 8 grams of protein
- 5 grams of fiber
- 118mg of magnesium
- 318mg of potassium
- 2mg of manganese
- 2mg of zinc
- All nine essential amino acids
That is just scratching the surface of what quinoa has to offer, if you're interested in reading the full breakdown of its nutritional facts, nutritionalvalue.org has that all here for you!
So now that we've established how healthy it is, let's answer your next question, "How can I add quinoa to my diet?" It is probably a lot easier than you think, it's simple to cook, and can be added to almost any dish. We'll even throw in a couple of recipes for quinoa for you at the bottom of this article to help you get started.
Quinoa Cooking Instructions
Cooking quinoa to perfection might take a couple of tries, but trust us, once you get the hang of it, it's gonna be the easiest dish to whip up. All you'll need to cook it is 1 part uncooked quinoa, and 2 parts water. That's it! Once you start getting more comfortable with it, you can throw in spices and/or vegetables, but for quinoa itself, that's all you'll need.
- Rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove the saponins, (saponins are a natural pesticide that can cause a bitter taste) and strain it well. Because quinoa is very small uncooked, we would suggest a fine mesh strainer.
- Add the water and cleaned quinoa in a saucepan, uncovered, bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer occasionally reducing the heat until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water in the pan.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and cover to let the quinoa steam for about 5 minutes. Letting the quinoa steam gives it time to cook properly and get fluffy.
- (Optional) Add some olive oil over the freshly cooked quinoa or some garlic to add extra and easy flavoring. You can also add spinach or kale, or other spices.
Storage: Quinoa will stay good for about 5 days after cooked if refrigerated, which makes it a great addition to any meal prep recipe. However, before putting it in the fridge, make sure it's cooled down to room temperature.
We suggest making about 4 – 5 cups of quinoa before the week starts so you'll have quick, easy and healthy breakfast, lunches or dinners all ready to go with minimal prep times!
Alright, let's get into some easy, healthy recipes, if you already have your quinoa cooked and ready to go, these recipes will take less than 10 minutes to prepare! Of course, there are countless recipes for quinoa, but these are some of our personal favorites!
Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad
This recipe we got from Cookie+Kate and is packed full of flavor, she outlined the recipe for the salad and the salad dressing for us as well! Here's what you'll need:
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 1/3 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 cups spinach
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Black pepper
- Whisk all of the "Dressing" ingredients together.
- In a skillet or saucepan, warm up ¼ teaspoon of olive oil and toast the sliced almonds, stirring occasionally.
- Combine the dressing and cooked quinoa in a bowl and toss.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and almonds, mix again, serve immediately to keep spinach and tomatoes tasting fresh!
Savory Quinoa Breakfast
Simply Quinoa has a delicious and quick 5-minute recipe to whip up for a healthy breakfast. Here's what you'll need for one serving:
- ¾ cup of cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup of chopped cherry tomatoes
- ½ tablespoon of garlic and herb seasoning
(or any other seasoning of your choice)
- 1 cup of fresh spinach
- 1 egg
- (Optional) Hot Sauce
- Fry egg for about one minute on each side
- Mix the rest of the ingredients in a serving bowl
- Place fried egg on top, add hot sauce if you'd like, and enjoy!
Now that's an incredibly fast and easy breakfast! Even if you wake up late, you might have time to still whip that together if you had your quinoa cooked already.
Veggie Quinoa Fried Rice
No, this fried rice doesn't actually contain rice but is made with quinoa instead, and it is even more delicious! A Couple Cooks has a meal that can be warmed up later on the week, and is still easy and fast to make, here's what you will need:
- 5 cups cooked quinoa
- 4 greens onions, sliced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 ½ carrots, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 eggs
- 5 ounces of baby green kale, spinach or baby chard.
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- (optional) Siracha and edamame
- In large skillet or saucepan, add oil and onions, sauté until translucent. Then add carrots and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Stir quinoa into the pan, make a space in the middle exposing the pan, add eggs and scramble and let cook for several minutes. Only mix when eggs are cooked.
- Add baby greens and soy sauce, continue to stir until fully wilted and serve!
A great alternative to fried rice that is cheap and easy to make, and can last as a meal for the next few days! For another delicious recipe, try making your own orange/vanilla-infused water!