Cooking with quinoa

quinoa growing
Quinoa growing by Maurice Chédel (Maurice Chédel) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Quinoa — pronounced “keen-wah” — is a grain-like seed that grows 3-6 feet tall. It can be white, yellow (ivory), pink, red, purple or black, the University of Illinois Extension explains.

Quinoa grows in South America, in the Andes Mountains region of Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. University of Wisconsin explains that quinoa is a broadleaf non-legume, or a “pseudocereal.”

Quinoa is related to sugar beets, table beets and spinach, believe it or not. It’s also related to common lambsquarters, a weed.

How do you cook quinoa?

Quinoa can be prepared with two parts liquid (water, vegetable broth, chicken broth) to one part dry seed, according to University of Florida IFAS Extension. Cook liquid and seed together in a pot over high heat. Boil, then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.


Quinoa can be used in place of rice, couscous and pasta, especially in casseroles and soups. Dry quinoa can be used instead of breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish before baking. Cooked quinoa can be topped with fruit, honey or almonds for breakfast.

University of Florida IFAS Extension adds that quinoa flour is gluten-free. It can be substituted for white or whole wheat flour in recipes.

Nutritional information

Quinoa is high in proteins, dietary fibers, calcium, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, folate, riboflavin and vitamin E. Check out how quinoa stacks up against similar grains — couscous, long-grain white rice and barley — in this University of Florida IFAS Extension article.

Quinoa is low in sodium and is thought to reduce heart disease.

Farm and Dairy’s quinoa recipes

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