Quinoa: What is it?

Photo Credit: CookElite

Have you been wondering what quinoa is and how to cook it?  Maybe you have made it, but it didn’t have much flavor and no one like it?  First, let’s find out what quinoa is and why you would want to put it into your diet rotation. 

Quinoa is an ancient grain originating from South America. It is actually a “pseudo-grain” due to it being a seed rather than growing on a grass like wheat or rice.  It is considered a whole grain, though.  What makes it such a great choice vs. using other side-dish starches such as rice or pasta?   

Quinoa is quite nutrient rich.  It is a complete protein, meaning this is a food that can be used for those who are vegetarians or as an addition to a meatless meal.  It is high in fiber and is gluten free.  It is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc.  Quinoa may also reduce blood sugars, triglycerides and cholesterol. 

Quinoa is cooked much like rice in a 1:2 ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water.  It can be rinsed in cold water before cooking to wash off the saponins which may make it somewhat bitter, but it is not necessary.   Seasonings can be as simple as butter, salt and pepper or you can add olive oil, onions, garlic and herbs.  I hope you will consider trying this superfood and perhaps add it to your repertoire! 


Quinoa and Pinto Beans 


  • 1 cup quinoa  
  • 2 cups water  
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • ½ onion, diced 
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • ½ teaspoon pepper 
  • 1-2 tablespoon fresh (or dried) parsley, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 Chopped green onions 


  1. In a medium pot cook quinoa according to package directions. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium, sauté onions in 2 teaspoons of olive oil for approximately 10 minutes or until translucent and beginning to caramelize. 
  3. Add beans, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Add finished quinoa and remaining olive oil to skillet and sauté on medium-low for an additional 5 minutes. 
  5. Garnish with chopped green onion and serve along with your favorite protein and green vegetable.   

You can also try various herbs, spices and additions to create your own recipe! 

Serves 6Nutrition per serving: 196 Calories, 6.4g Fat, 30g Carbohydrates, 6.3g Fiber, 7.7g Protein 


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