What is Quinoa and How Is It Cooked?

There is a new kid in town and his name is quinoa.  But what is quinoa exactly? Quinoa (pronounced as “keen wah”) is a grain.  But it’s not just any grain – it’s more like a super grain.  Think of it as a rice replacement that you could use as a side or mix into dishes in the way you might mix rice.

How To Prepare Quinoa

Quinoa is cooked much like rice as well.  You simmer it in a small amount water until it is cooked or you can even use a rice cooker if you have one.   Just use the quinoa in place of the rice and keep the measurements exactly the same and you should be fine.

Quinoa is also a gluten free food that can be crushed into flour like other grains and used in gluten free baking.  You can find quinoa flour all ready to go. 


What is really great about quinoa, besides its interesting texture and taste, is the nutrition you get from it.  Quinoa is a great source or protein, fiber, phosphorous, magnesium, folate, and iron.  Most of the fat in quinoa is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, the good fats.  Let’s see what a simple switch of quinoa in place of rice would do for you.

Comparing 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa to 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice, the quinoa contains 30 fewer calories, 25% fewer carbs, nearly twice as much fiber, nearly triple the iron, 25% more magnesium and phosphorus, 5 more grams of protein, and over 800% more folate.  Don’t mistake this comparison – brown rice is a fine choice.  It’s just that quinoa is that high in nutrients and other benefits.

Where To Find Quinoa

Quinoa is quickly becoming a highly sought after grain as it gets more and more press and consumers discover the benefits of quinoa.  If you can’t find it in your grocery store’s grain aisle, check the natural foods section to see if it’s there.  If not, it will be soon.  In the meantime, order online or ask your local market to stock it for you and give it a try.

You might just discover a new staple in your diet now that you know what quinoa is and how to cook it.

Lessons Learned:

  • Quinoa is a grain that can be used like you use rice
  • Quinoa is rich in nutrients and low in saturated fat
  • Quinoa is a great source of plant protein and high in fiber

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