Thursday, January 27, 2011

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced ˈkiːnwɑ) is a seed. You may have heard about it in biggest loser or read about it in clean eating literature. I love quinoa! I like the texture better than I like the texture of rice. I also like the taste of it plain. It has a slight nutty flavor. It is super easy to cook and it is a complete protein all by itself meaning it has the complete set of amino acids. Rice and beans both contain amino acids but they need to be together to form a complete protein

One disadvantage is the calories. You need to be careful. I felt very proud of myself the first time I bought quinoa. I went to the whole food store and asked for it in my perfect pronunciation "Where is the 'ki:nwa?" At the check stand two other ladies commented on it and asked me about it. I felt healthier by just buying it. I got home and made a beautiful meal with it incorporated. I then smugly sat down to log in the calories on It came up as 600 calories a cup!!!! Gasp! After that I let it sit on my shelf for a while until I started thinking more clearly. Was it really 600 calories? Why is it promoted so highly in clean eating and other diet books, I know it has protein but still, I did more research and found 4 or 5 different sites all with different numbers of calories. In the end, I discovered that you must use a uncooked amount as measurement for calories. The volume cooked changes with the amount of water lost in cooking. And with quinoa a little goes a long way.

So it's true calorie count for 1/4 cup uncooked is about 160 calories. 1/4 cup per person is more than enough and roughly will become about a cup cooked.

My favorite dish so far is a lemon stirfry with quinoa. I use about 1/2 -1 cup cooked quinoa on the side of the stirfry.

Soak quinoa for 15 min before cooking to remove a bitter coating. Drain water using a fine strainer and refill pan
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
  1. Place quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes 3 cups.
Cook's Note: Quinoa is done when the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated.
Lemon Chicken Stir Fry –

1 lemon
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless,
skinless chicken breasts
trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
10 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 cup diagonally sliced carrots , (1/4 inch thick)
2 cups snow peas , (6 ounces), stems and strings removed
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
1 tablespoon chopped garlic.

Directions: Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and whisk 3 tablespoons of the juice with broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs. Add mushrooms and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. 4 servings 11/2 cup each Per serving without quinoa: Total calories per serving 225 calories adapted from


Rochelle said...

Ooh, thanks for this post. I have cooked with quinoa a couple of times, with mixed results. I wanted to like it, but I really didn't know what I was doing. This is really helpful, and I think I will try cooking with it again when I find it at a good price.

Leesa said...

That sounds good! I'm totally going to try that! One of my favorites
Is from Mamalicious. Have you heard of that one? Total healthy
Cookbook. You'd like it.

Amanda said...

Oh I love quinoa! I've got a yummy black bean/cilantro recipe. I don't make it enough. Can't wait to try this one.

seesuerun said...

Rochelle please let me know when you find a good price.

Leesa- Mamalicious? I will look it up :)

Amanda- Do share! That sounds fantastic!

Jackie said...

Hey... I just found quinoa at Costco!

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