Crazy About Quinoa


July 7, 2010 by Danielle

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is often called a grain although it’s actually a seed.  These yummy little seeds were once known as the “the gold of the Incas.”

The Incas certainly had it right with that nickname because these seeds are definitely nutritional gold.  Quinoa is a veritable superfood as it is full of all nine essential amino acids, protein and minerals.  It’s especially good for you if you’re going to be working out a lot since it contains the amino acid lysine which is essential for tissue repair and growth.

But enough with the facts, because I could go on all day about how great quinoa is for you.  I really love quinoa because it tastes great and it’s versatile.  I use it as a side, as a filling in omelets and even as a breakfast “cereal”. You can literally have it at any meal.

Quinoa used to be one of the items that you could only find at your health food store, but today it’s pretty mainstream.  I buy my quinoa at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  Quinoa is really not hard to prepare but just remember to rinse your quinoa it multiple times or else it can come out tasting bitter…which isn’t fun for anyone.  I find that I can cook Trader Joe’s quinoa right out of the box, so if there’s TJs near you, I would definitely check it out.

Here are two of my favorite quinoa recipes so you can try out this great “grain” for yourself.

Saffron Quinoa Con Pollo
This is a great dinner dish for serving a crowd.  It’s healthy, delicious and extremely easy to make.  If you’re vegetarian, feel free to sub in tofu for the chicken.  It seems like alot of ingredients but you basically just throw them all in a pot and let the oven do the rest.

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 6 artichokes (I used canned–it’s easier than wrestling a fresh artichoke…but if you’re up for peeling a fresh artichoke, more power to you! Just peel it and soak it in lemon juice and water to soften.)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 medium red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas or edamame
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • Serves 4-6

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Heat olive oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat and drop in the chicken chunks.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Add lemon juice.  Let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes, then stir occasionally.  Once the chicken is browned, add artichokes, onion, garlic, tomato paste bell pepper, peas, saffron, and quinoa to pot.  Cook for 2 minutes to soften the veggies.  Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot.
    2.  Put the pot in the oven and bake covered for 45 minutes, or until the quinoa is done.  Once the quinoa is fluffy and tender, it’s done.  If there is still a little extra liquid in the pot after 45 minutes, let the quinoa cook uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.

    -adapted from The New Whole Grain Cookbook by Robin Asbell

    Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe
    This is great on a cold day and can be a great change to your regular old oatmeal.  You can replace the almond milk with soy or low-fat milk.  In much the same way you can change up the blackberries for other berries or even go bananas (pun intended) with it.  It’s all about tailoring the recipe to what you like!

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped, roasted almonds
  • agave nectar
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put almonds in a blender and pulse it a few times, just enough to chop the almonds.  Place almonds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes while you prepare the quinoa.
    2. Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and lower heat to a simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat and let the mixture stand covered for about 5 minutes.
    3. Stir in blueberries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with toasted almonds. Drizzle agave nectar over each serving.

    -adapted from


    3 thoughts on “Crazy About Quinoa

    1. Charles Shaw says:

      Saffron Quinoa Con Pollo is delicious and surprisingly filling

    2. […] you might already know I’m crazy about quinoa. It’s versatile and good for you. I’m also love granola, but some kinds go a little […]

    3. […] so I’m not running around like a crazy person in the morning. Since I had made a batch of quinoa (one of my favorites!) earlier in the week, I threw together some roasted red peppers, feta, sauteed […]

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