A Quinoa Recipe,
How To Cook Quinoa for Best Results

quinoa-recipe-cooked

The quinoa recipe we share further down on this page is, in our opinion, one of the best ways to cook this alkaline, protein-rich food.  There are a few tricks to preparing it that considerably increase its flavor, texture as well as its digestibility.

It is a gluten-free grain, or actually a seed, and nutrient-rich fuel source offering greater health components over other varieties of grain.  Quinoa is one of the few cooked grains, along with millet and wild rice, that we actually eat on a pretty regular basis.

It works really well as a cooked whole food adjunct for vegans, vegetarians or those eating a high raw diet because it is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein compared to rice, wheat or barley.

It also has become fairly well known in recent years, gaining popularity among a more mainstream audience for its numerous health benefits.  Its not just found in health food stores anymore. Quinoa is widely available at many large chain supermarkets across the U.S. and Canada.

In fact, the demand for quinoa actually produced a short-term shortage of the supergrain not too long ago.

If you are going to eat cooked grains this is one of our top recommended choices for a number of reasons.

What does quinoa taste like?

A good quinoa recipe, made the right way, has a pleasantly nutty buttery flavor with a delicate, light and fluffy, yet firm, pasta-like texture.

quinoa-health-benefits

Quinoa Health Benefits

A Gluten-Free Grain

We have been eating quinoa for over 20 years as a staple food, enjoying it as a replacement for cooked rice and pasta.  Being a gluten-free grain, it is lighter, less mucous forming than other grain varieties and usually well tolerated and digested for those with allergic sensitivities.

Gluten allergies, both mild to extreme cases (celiac disease), can cause abnormal immune response and damage the lining of the small intestine causing mal-absorption and a host of related problems including diarrhea, skin eruptions, anemia and general fatigue.  You don't have to worry about all this with quinoa as it contains no gluten.

An Alkaline Food Source

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) became especially popular in the mid nineties after the "The Body Ecology Diet" was published.  In the book, Donna Gates advocates the use of it, as well as other alkaline-forming grains, to combat the effects of candida overgrowth.  Alkaline based foods tend to create a more balanced body pH which is helpful for a healthy intestinal environment.  Quinoa is also a prebiotic that supports the health and continued growth of the good bacteria in your colon.

quinoa-curry

High in Protein

Quinoa has a high quantity of protein for a grain with exceptional amounts of lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids, which are typically low in other grains, according to a PubMed study.  It is also a complete protein source offering all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks for muscle tissue.

As far as its carbohydrates to protein ratio, quinoa is the best choice among other varieties.  Wheat grains are high in carbs and high in protein, but not usually digested optimally and even less so when used as a flour in bread and baked goods.

Carbohydrates to Protein Ratio

39g carb-----quinoa, cooked-----8.3g protein
45g carb-----brown rice long grain, cooked-----5g protein
45g carb-----white rice long grain, cooked-----4.2g protein
51g carb-----wheat, cooked-----11g protein
44g carb-----barley, cooked-----3.6g protein

What is Quinoa?

quinoa-health-benefits-plant

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is an ancient grain from South America and was a major food source of the Incan civilization.  Native to the Andean locations of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, it was successfully domesticated close to 4,000 years ago for human consumption.

Quinoa is still a popular cooked grain in these regions and is also used in a well known sweet and spiced fermented drink, called Chicha.

The plant is related to spinach and wild lambs quarter.  It is similar to the amaranth seed, but larger in size and actually looks like the red flowering amaranth plants that are a common landscape flower.

Different colored quinoa's are available, mostly red, white and black varieties.  We prefer the texture of white grain as opposed to red, but sometimes it is nice to switch it up in a quinoa recipe.  The pic to the left is a red quinoa and is a little different in taste and texture compared to the white variety.

Because it grows best in cooler climates at higher elevations, most quinoa is imported from South America, but it has also been cultivated on a small scale in the U.S. Colorado mountains since the early 80's.

Other Nutritional Components

  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Riboflavin
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • B2
  • Fiber
growing-quinoa--related-to-lambs-quarter

Growing Your Own Quinoa

Quinoa is a cool weather crop that can also be planted in Northern hemispheres that don't exceed temperatures of 90 degrees F (32C).  You can grow your own quinoa by sowing the grain seeds directly into soil that is about 60 degrees F (15C).

It can reach a height of 6 feet or more with each plant head producing an average of over 6 ounces of grain.  The young green leaves, that look like the wild lambs quarter green, are edible and can be used in salads or steamed.  When the leaves fall off the stalk, you can hand harvest the seeds.

How To Cook Quinoa for Best Results

Most basic quinoa recipes produce an end result that is very different than the quinoa we love and enjoy.  Most standard recipes taste "under cooked" and yield a goopy texture with crunchy seeds that are not completely cooked nor appetizing to the palette.

Many people find it hard to digest quinoa prepared in this way, which often involves stomach upset and possible intestinal cramping.

The quinoa we make has a perfectly fluffy texture that is easily digested and is not bitter or mushy tasting.

Tips for Cooking Quinoa

1)  Soak and rinse your grain.
2)  Don't under-cook or over-cook your quinoa recipe.
3)  Simmer 20 minutes or until all water is gone.
4)  Always let it sit with the lid on for 5 minutes after the cooking time.

Soaking the Quinoa

how-to-cook-quinoa-soaking-quinoa

When we cook our food we like to use preparation techniques that help to improve the nutritional quality of our cooked ingredients.  This usually involves soaking and rinsing our grains and legumes before we use them.

It is necessary to soak and rinse quinoa to remove the bitter astringent saponins (on the outside of the seed) and phytic acid that has a tendency to cause gastrointestinal upset.  This can be done by soaking the grains for at least 3 hours before use. 

Some say that it is best to soak quinoa overnight to achieve greater removal of these digestive inhibitors, but we don't find that this is completely necessary.  Three hours of soaking at a room temperature of 68 degrees F seems to do the trick.  Plus, longer soaking times seem to change the texture quite a bit when cooked.

Under-cooking or Over-cooking

It is important not to under-cook or over-cook your quinoa recipe.  Its a bit like "Goldiocks and the Three Bears"... under-cooked is goopy and over-cooked is mushy and neither one are very appealing.

If you use 1C dry quinoa to 2 cups water you will get "goopy."

If you use over 2 cups water to 1C soaked quinoa you will get "mushy."

In our recipe below well show you how to get it "just right."

The Cost of Quinoa

Because most quinoa is imported it tends to be a bit more expensive than other grains at a little over $3 a pound in the U.S.  However, when you think about it, 1 pound of quinoa can yield about 16 cups of cooked grain.  There are 4 cups of dry quinoa in a pound and one cup of quinoa produces about 4 cups cooked grain.

We personally always buy quinoa in bulk quantities to save money.  A 25 pound bag usually costs about 10-15% less depending on your supplier.  It is important to buy organic, non-GMO grains from reputable, fair-trade sources.

Basic Quinoa Recipe

The best kind of quinoa recipe, as we mentioned, is one that is light and fluffy as opposed to goopy with bits of uncooked crunchiness.

In this recipe you will be steaming the quinoa to the point where the seeds pop open completely into firm, off-white, rounded little balls with whiter pieces of the curled germ falling off of them.

quinoa-recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1C quinoa
  • 2C pure water
  • 1/4t celtic sea salt

Directions:

  1. Soak the quinoa for 3 hours in about 2C pure water.
  2. After soaking, strain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.
  3. Rinse one more time.
  4. Simmer with 2C water for 20 minutes on low flame or until no liquid is present when you tilt the pot.
  5. Turn the flame off and let the quinoa sit with lid on for another 5 minutes.

Most people traditionally use 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water without soaking it first.   This, in our opinion, produces a bad tasting end result because it doesn't have enough water to completely cook and open the seeds.

Other Quinoa Recipe Alternative

No Soak Method

Although we highly recommend soaking your quinoa, we also understand that sometimes this is not always possible.  We have successfully made a quinoa recipe many times without soaking it first.  It has a slightly bitter flavor and may be harder to digest for some people, but it can be done and still tastes pretty good.

This method requires a different water to quinoa ratio of: 

1C quinoa to 2 1/2C water

It is important to rinse your quinoa, if you don't soak it, as this will help to remove some of the bitter saponins and phytic acid.  In addition, we have noticed that sometimes quinoa has clogs of dirt or tiny rocks mixed in it, so it is good to also rinse and remove them.

Sushi Quinoa Recipe

nori-rolls-quinoa

This is one of our favorite ways to use quinoa in a recipe, beside just eating it straight with a little olive oil and sea salt.

For this recipe you will need to make a pot of cooked quinoa and let it cool before you make your sushi.

It is always best to combine enzyme-rich raw foods and ferments when eating cooked foods to help digest them.  In this case we use sprouts, raw veggies, sauerkraut as well as homemade miso paste.

This is a refreshing sushi quinoa recipe to enjoy as a main meal on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:

For Sushi:

  • raw nori sheets
  • thinly sliced cucumber
  • thinly sliced celery
  • thinly sliced red pepper
  • sprouts
  • sauerkraut
  • miso sauce
  • avocado slices
  • or use any raw veggie ingredients you have on hand

Miso Sauce:

2T miso
  6T water
1t toasted sesame seed oil
  1t grated ginger
1 clove pressed garlic
  1/8t stevia
1/2t kelp
  1t dulse flakes
  Add more water if necessary

Directions:

  1. For each sushi roll use 1/4C cooked quinoa per nori sheet.
  2. Place quinoa lengthwise at the beginning of sheet.
  3. Add 1t of miso sauce.
  4. Add the veggies, thinly sliced avocado and cuke, just a few pieces of each going lengthwise.
  5. Roll the nori tightly.
  6. To seal the end dip finger in water and wet the edge of sheet.
  7. Cut roll with a serrated knife into smaller pieces.
  8. Place upright on a nice dish or just slice in half and eat like a burrito.

Other Ways to Use a Quinoa Recipe


Some people are into sprouting quinoa and eating it raw, but we find that the taste is not so appealing.  Others use the flour in baked goods, pastas, sauces and gravies as a wheat flour replacement. 

Quinoa also makes a lovely cold salad ingredient with chopped raw veggies, marinated in a dressing.

It is also a nice grain to add to hot soups or eat for breakfast with a little red palm oil or coconut oil, dried fruit, shredded coconut and a natural sweetener.

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