Grain Focus: Quinoa

I’m starting a grain study on the blog! I LOVE grains, and find trying new options so much fun. I want to document my exploration, so here we are! Some of these grains I’m old friends with, and some are new for me. I’m going to be investigating what they are, what they taste like, the health benefits, the best ways to cook with them, recipes, and where to find them. Here is the list of grains I’ll be exploring, but I’m not going in alphabetical order (obviously; I’m starting with quinoa):

  1. Amaranth

  2. Barley

  3. Buckwheat

  4. Bulgur

  5. Corn

  6. Einkorn

  7. Farro

  8. Freekeh

  9. Kamut

  10. Kaniwa

  11. Millet

  12. Oats

  13. Quinoa

  14. Rice

  15. Rye

  16. Sorghum

  17. Spelt

  18. Teff

  19. Wheat

  20. Wild Rice


What is quinoa?

Quinoa is a small round grain, similar in appearance to sesame seeds. The most common color is the ivory variety in the picture above, but it is also available in red, purple, and black, although the purple variety is hard to find.

What does quinoa taste like?

The taste of quinoa is like a mashup of brown rice and oatmeal. It’s fluffy and somewhat nutty.

What are the health benefits of quinoa?

So many benefits! This grain is non-GMO, naturally gluten free, and usually grown organically. The rich amount of protein in quinoa makes it a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids our bodies need but can’t make on their own. Quinoa has a higher fiber content than most grains. It’s also a low glycemic food, good for blood sugar control. The combination of quinoa being high protein, high fiber, and low glycemic make it helpful for losing weight. This grain contains large amounts of flavonoids, potent antioxidants with great health benefits. Quinoa is very high in minerals, including magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron (eat up, ladies!)

What is the best way to cook quinoa?

Most quinoa needs to be rinsed for two reasons: 1) to remove saponins, a bitter residue the plant produces to ward off insects, and 2) to remove phytic acid, which prevents us from absorbing all those yummy minerals. Quinoa pairs well with many foods and is quick cooking:

Put 2 cups of water in a pot.

Add 1 cup of quinoa with a dash of salt.

Boil 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Where can I find quinoa?

Quinoa is pretty easy to find nowadays. I’ve been able to find it at Walmart, Aldi, County Market, and Amazon.

Shop for it:

What are some good recipes?

  1. Sundried tomato, spinach, and quinoa salad

  2. Quinoa black bean tacos

  3. Colorful beet salad with carrot, quinoa, and spinach

  4. Quinoa vegetable soup with kale

  5. Cinnamon toast breakfast quinoa

  6. Seedy cherry quinoa bars

  7. Grilled steak, vegetable, and quinoa salad with yogurt-tahini dressing

  8. Roasted quinoa and tomato soup with parmesan and basil

  9. Quinoa mushroom frittata with fresh herbs

  10. Quinoa, lime, and chili-crumbed snapper with sweet potato wedges

  11. Breakfast cookies

  12. Little quinoa patties


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